Hydrogel Burn Dressing Takes the Pain out of Second Degree Burn Treatment

Hydrogel Burn Dressing Takes the Pain out of Second Degree Burn Treatment

An innovative new dissolvable dendritic thioester hydrogel burn dressing has been developed by a team of biomedical engineers and chemists which has potential to ease the suffering of burn victims. Burns can cause horrific pain due to the high numbers of pain receptors present in the skin.

While serious burns can be excruciatingly painful for the victims, current methods of treating burns are by no means pain free. Burns often require surgical treatment which causes further trauma, while the changing of burn dressings on a daily basis results in some tissue debridement. The removal and replacement of dressings is a time-consuming process and can be painful for the burn victim.

It can take three people over two hours to dress burns covering between 10 and 30 percent of the body, while facial burns can take over an hour to dress. Dressings cannot be removed on demand and it is currently not possible to change dressings without causing further pain to the patient.

However, a research team at the Grinstaff laboratory at Boston University, with assistance from physicians at the Nazarian Lab at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center-Harvard Medical School, believe they have developed the first burn dressing that can be removed on demand without causing suffering to the patient.

The hydrogel burn dressing is comprised of two polymers which bind together to form the hydrogel. The hydrogel is able to confirm to irregular shapes and accommodates movement, thereby forming an effective barrier to prevent bacterial infections. The hydrogel burn dressing can also absorb fluids from the wound while maintaining humidity to promote healing.

According to the researchers, “The hydrogel sealant adheres strongly to tissues, closes an ex vivo vein puncture, and withstands high pressures placed on a wound” However, most importantly, when the dressing needs to be changed it can be dissolved with an aqueous solution so there is no tissue debridement.

This potentially means the dressing can be changed without causing any further pain to the patient. The research team believe their new hydrogel burn dressing could be a breakthrough in the treatment of second degree burns and the dressing could come to market in the next couple of years.

The researchers have recently described the new dissolvable dendritic thioester hydrogel burn dressing in the Angewandte Chemie International Edition. The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Coulter Foundation at Boston University.