DD01: Development and characterisation of cyclodextrin-loaded biosynthetic hydrogels for wound management applications

Supervisory Team

Dr Claire Martin and Professor Stephen Britland, School of Pharmacy

Project Description

Wound healing is a complex cascading event involving cellular, enzymatic and biochemical pathways, spanning from the time the skin is damaged until the wound is completely healed. Maintenance of healthy wound site homeostasis is thus important to maximize wound healing capacity, especially in immunocompromised patients or those with underlying chronic health conditions. Generally, wound healing follows this sequence but, being non-linear, the stages may move forwards and backwards, based on intrinsic and extrinsic factors as well as the severity of the wound. The rate of wound healing differs between individuals and is influenced by factors such as type and depth of wound, age, nutrition, immune status, underlying health conditions as well as local microbial burden. Microbial infection in particular retards wound healing by increasing the bio-burden at wound sites, thus stalling the normal process at the inflammatory phase.

Polymeric systems can also be employed as hydrogels to control the release of antimicrobials, particularly to areas of the body in which it is difficult to achieve sustained release.  Hydrogels are water-rich, malleable materials that can absorb excess wound fluids while releasing medicinal agents, such as antimicrobials and those that promote wound healing.  Hydrogels dressings can be formulated to provide controlled, targeted release of antimicrobial agents which is facilitated by bioadhesive, stimuli (wound)-responsive characteristics.  Cyclodextrins (CDs) are cyclic organic compounds composed of glucopyranose units bound by α-1,4-glycosidic linkages which assume a truncated cone shape with a hydrophobic interior (resulting from the carbon backbone of the glucopyranose monomers) and a hydrophilic exterior.  This unique architecture has led to the application of CDs mainly as solubilisers for compounds with weak water solubility.  The combination of wound-responsive, moisture promoting hydrogels with cyclodextrins which can solubilise and deliver a range of hydrophobic & hydrophilic agents may improve treatment of infected wounds and speed up the healing process. 

To this end, a systematic pharmaceutical investigation of cyclodextrins, hydrogels and cyclodextrin-loaded hydrogels will be conducted, encompassing (but not limited to) unloaded and loaded hydrogel stability, rheology, encapsulation efficiency, particle size and polydispersity, drug release and associated mathematical models, as well as assessment of cell viability and cytotoxicity.

The successful candidate will be trained in a range of advanced techniques used in the preparation of hydrogels and develop skills in microbiology. Laboratory work and characterization will be undertaken within the University of Wolverhampton’s new Science Centre, the Rosalind Franklin building, which houses a broad range of state-of-the-art research facilities suitable for undertaking this multidisciplinary project.


We welcome applications at any time from self-funded students that are well qualified and highly motivated. Applicants should have a recognized Honours or Masters degree with a 2.1 or equivalent in pharmacy, pharmaceutical science or biomedical science, (or a related field).

Applicants whose entry award was not delivered in English, or non-native speaker of English shall be required to demonstrate proficiency in English at least to the level of an IELTS score of 7.0 or its equivalent.

How to apply

Complete the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 679k) and email to RIHS@wlv.ac.uk. 

See Guidance for the Completion of the Research Project Application Form (Word doc 23k) for details.

For more information

For an informal discussion please contact via direct email to Dr Claire Martin C.Martin@wlv.ac.uk