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Researchers develop an innovative nanomaterial-based drug delivery system that could offer a highly effective therapeutic tool for treating painful wounds.
Certain skin wounds are often notoriously difficult to treat, especially chronic wounds and deep burns – mainly due to the complexity of the skin and the wound healing process. Traditional medical dressings – such as gauze or lint – are often applied to the wound to promote healing by providing a sterile, breathable and moist environment – and acting as a physical barrier to prevent infection.
But recent advances in materials science and nanotechnology are fuelling the development of novel nanomaterial-based dressings capable of releasing drugs that can actively help to prevent infection and promote healing. Of particular interest are wound dressings with embedded nanoparticles (NPs) that can be used to anchor a drug to the applied area, enabling sustained drug release – prolonging the delivery of an effective drug concentration to the wound over time.
Diclofenac is a commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) that provides long-lasting pain relief. Oral NSAIDs are usually prescribed to relieve pain and also help the healing process of acute wounds. But when these drugs act locally, they may also aid the healing of chronic wounds by relieving excessive inflammation.
In a new study, published in Materials, a team of researchers create a multilayer polymer-based wound dressing as a therapeutic tool for targeted pain relief.1
The researchers used the spin coating technique to embed diclofenac within a matrix composed of polyhydroxyethyl methacrylate and polyhydroxypropyl methacrylate. Using a layer-by-layer coating technique and including superparamagnetic iron platinum NPs, they achieved a multilayer structure that enables sustained drug release and an exact application.
The team used a variety of techniques to characterise the multilayered dressings’ physicochemical, structural, and morphological properties. They found that the synergistic effect of the incorporated drug molecules and magnetic NPs on the surface roughness and release kinetics resulted in controlled drug release. They also showed that the proposed formulation was biocompatible with human skin cells grown in the laboratory.
The scientists used ultrapure water generated from an ELGA PURELAB® water purification system in these experiments, minimising the risk of adding contaminants that could affect their results.
This study demonstrated the design of an innovative multilayer dressing based on the simultaneous integration of magnetic NPs and diclofenac in a biocompatible polymer matrix for wound care.
In a series of experiments, the researchers showed that the proposed wound dressing exhibits the desired properties for long-lasting pain relief. They also demonstrated the safety of the formulation on human skin cells.
Overall, this multilayer nanomaterial-based drug delivery system has the potential to contribute to tailored therapeutic strategies for local pain relief. The proposed formulation could be developed into a novel wound dressing that can help alleviate patients’ pain and discomfort after surgery.
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1. Zidarič, T. et al. Multilayer Methacrylate-Based Wound Dressing as a Therapeutic Tool for Targeted Pain Relief. Materials 2023, 16, 2361. https://doi.org/10.3390/ma16062361
Dr Alison Halliday
After completing an undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Genetics at Sheffield University, Alison was awarded a PhD in Human Molecular Genetics at the University of Newcastle. She carried out five years as a Senior Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCL, investigating the genes involved in childhood obesity syndrome. Moving into science communications, she spent ten years at Cancer Research UK engaging the public about the charity’s work. She now specialises in writing about research across the life sciences, medicine and health.