Researcher Abhishek Gupta, of the University of Wolverhampton's School of Pharmacy, developed the new innovative dressings.
He said they would provide an alternative to conventional gauze, which could be particularly beneficial for immunocompromised patients such as HIV patients, diabetics and the elderly. They can be used for dry or exudative wounds as they are capable of creating a moist microclimate at the wound site which facilitates healing.
"Our hydrogel dressings are ultra-pure and biosynthetic. As well as the additional healing properties, they are biodegradable so is an environmentally-friendly alternative to conventional dressings," he said. "Chronic wounds impose an immense socio-economic burden and if they fail to respond to the available medical interventions, may lead to amputation. Although there is a plethora of proprietary wound dressing products already available on the market, due to the increase in the ageing population and incidences of chronic diseases, there is a critical need to continue to develop improved advanced wound dressings.
"Our development could have a positive impact on the use and disposal of wound dressings in the future."
The hydrogel wound dressings when loaded with silver (silver zeolites) exhibited prolonged antimicrobial properties and are capable of providing additional protection.
Curcumin is an active compound of turmeric with powerful antimicrobial, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. All these properties are beneficial in facilitating healing of chronic wounds.
Abhishek used curcumin as a healing agent for the hydrogel dressings with the aim of achieving faster recovery for chronic wounds.
Extensive testing has shown the dressings to kill bacteria, with no damage to blood cells and with strong antioxidant properties. It is also thermally stable and does not lose its properties when autoclaved for sterilisation purposes.
Abhishek is part of the Centre for Molecular Science and Antimicrobial Research group, led by Prof Iza Radecka, which works on developing solutions to tackle infections and problems of antimicrobial resistance.
Professor Iza Radecka and Abhishek have published the research work in international journals and are now looking to work collaboratively with partners to develop it further.
Abhishek has presented the findings at many national and international conferences and won several awards, including best lecture at the Career in Polymers X event in Prague. He also spoke at the International Conference on Natural Polymers & Workshop on Natural Polymers at the Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam where he received two awards.