03 September 2021

Oxygen hydrogel

In about 25% of cases of diabetes, ulcers develop on the legs, which appear and heal slowly due to low oxygen content, as high blood sugar levels disrupt the functioning of blood vessels and increase inflammation. These wounds become chronic, impairing the quality of life and threatening amputation.

Professor Jianjun Guan and his colleagues from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a hydrogel that delivers oxygen to the wound, reducing inflammation, helping to regenerate tissues and accelerating healing. The hydrogel showed good results in mouse models. Oxygen delivered to the affected skin performs two functions: it improves cell survival under hypoxia conditions in a diabetic wound and stimulates skin cells to produce growth factors necessary for healing.

Oxygen is necessary for tissues to live, and they need it even more when the cells are damaged. There are several known methods of treating diabetic ulcers, and the most common is a long course of therapy in a pressure chamber (hyperbaric oxygenation), but its effectiveness is contradictory and carries the risk of toxic side effects of oxygen.

The new continuous oxygenation system consists of microspheres releasing oxygen and a hydrogel absorbing reactive oxygen species – an aggressive component that plays an important role in the progression of diabetic ulcers.

One of the risks of any therapy delivering oxygen to wounds is excessive oxygenation, which can provoke the accumulation of reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress, which is detrimental to cells. The hydrogel of the Guan group captures reactive oxygen species in a chronic wound, both of natural origin and accumulated due to oxygen released from the injected microspheres.

The gel is sensitive to temperature: in a cold environment, it is a liquid and hardens when applied to warm skin. With a single application of hydrogel with microspheres, oxygen enters the wound for about two weeks, inflammation and swelling decrease, which promotes healing.

In mice, diabetic ulcers treated with hydrogel with oxygen-releasing microspheres healed faster than ulcers treated with gel alone and control ulcers: by day 16, the size of wounds in these groups had decreased to 10.7%, 30.4% and 52.2%, respectively.


In addition, treatment with hydrogel with microspheres was accompanied by the formation of the thickest epidermis on day 8 and the thinnest by day 16, which indicates wound healing and reduced inflammation.

The researchers will test the hydrogel on larger animals and, if successful, will move on to clinical trials.

Article by Y.Guan et al. Sustained oxygenation accelerates diabetic wound healing by promoting epithelialization and angiogenesis and decreasing inflammation published in the journal Science Advances.

Aminat Adzhieva, portal "Eternal Youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru Based on materials from Washington University in St. Louis: Oxygen-delivering hydrogel accelerates diabetic wound healing.

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