Seaweed and Carbonated Water-based Hydrogel for Treating Skin Wounds

 Seagriculture EU 2024
Hydrogel

Low-adhesion, wound-dressing hydrogel, based on seaweed and carbonated water. Credit: Tokyo University of Science

Over the past few decades, hydrogels have received a lot of attention for treating skin wounds. When applied over a lesion, these special gels can promote healing by absorbing discharged fluids (exudates) and keeping the wound protected, well-hydrated, and oxygenated.

However, most developed hydrogels are given adhesive properties to skin tissue to follow skin movement. Since these hydrogels are sticky and adhere to the skin and wound site, they stretch and expand the wound itself once they swell up after absorbing exudates. This not only causes pain to the user but also puts them at a higher risk of bacterial infection due to the wound area expansion.

Recently a team of researchers from Tokyo University of Science (TUS), Japan, proposed an innovative and highly value-added medical material for treating skin wounds. As reported in their recent study published in the International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, they developed a novel, low-cost hydrogel using a component found in seaweed, achieving physical properties completely different from those of conventional hydrogels.

The method of preparation of the proposed hydrogel is straightforward. It was made using alginate, calcium carbonate, and carbonated water. Alginate is a biocompatible substance that can be extracted from beach-cast seaweed. Most importantly, it does not adhere strongly to cells or skin tissues.

Thanks to the special structure formed by alginate and calcium ions, in addition to the protective effect of the CO₂ in carbonated water against acidification, the resulting hydrogel not only exhibited ideal pH and moisture conditions for wound recovery but also demonstrated significantly lower adhesion and swelling, compared to other commercial hydrogel wound dressings.

The study, which was made available online on November 8, 2023, and will be published in Volume 254, Part 3 of the journal in January 2024, was led by Mr. Ryota Teshima, a Master’s student at TUS. Assistant Professor Shigehito Osawa, Ms. Miki Yoshikawa, Associate Professor Yayoi Kawano, Professor Hidenori Otsuka, and Professor Takehisa Hanawa, all from different faculties and departments at TUS, were also a part of this study.

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