Fractal self-pumping oil-hydrogel dressings promote burn wound healing

Excessive exudate secreted by edematous tissue and large blisters in burned wounds seriously hinders wound healing and poses a great challenge to traditional dressings. Recently, the team of Wang Shutao/Shi Lianxin of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences reported a self-pumping oil hydrogel with fractal hydrophilic microchannels, which can quickly remove excess exudate, the efficiency is about 30 times higher than that of pure hydrogel, and can effectively promote the healing of burn wounds. In this study, a dynamic emulsification process-assisted emulsion interface polymerization method was proposed, and a self-pumping oil-hydrogel dressing with fractal structure was prepared with the help of metastable emulsion dynamic process. Compared with the commercial dressing TegadermTM, the number of new hair follicles increased by about 13.5 times, the number of new blood vessels increased by about 6.6 times, and the area of new dermal cavity was reduced by about 42.5%. The study, which provides new ideas for the design of high-performance burn functional dressings, was recently published in Advanced under the title A Rapid Self-pumping Organohydrogel Dressing with Hydrophilic Fractal Microchannels to Promote Burn Wound Healing Materials ( Dr. Lan Jinze of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences is the first author, and Professor Wang Shutao and Associate Professor Shi Lianxin of the Institute of Physical and Chemical Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences are the corresponding authors, and the research work has been supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Youth Innovation Promotion Association of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Figure 1: Design of rapid self-pumping fractal hydrogel dressing. a) Schematic diagram of fractal self-pumping oil hydrogel rapidly deriving wound exudate to promote burn healing; b, c) Cross-sectional view of the fractal hydrogel microchannel (c) in the self-pumping oil hydrogel (b).

The rapid self-pumping hydrogel dressings reported in this study consisted of polylauryl methacrylate (PLMA) oleogel granules (yellow spheres, Figure 1a), and polyacrylamide (PAAm) hydrogels (blue backbone, Figure 1a). Among them, the oleogel particles (red, Figure 1b) show a decreasing column of diameter reduction from the gel surface to the inner particles, and the intergranular hydrogel network (green, Figure 1c) forms fractal hydrophilic microchannels. The fractal-pumped oil-hydrogel was prepared by the emulsion interface polymerization method assisted by the dynamic emulsification process, and a unique self-pumping oil-hydrogel material with fractal hydrogel with fractal microchannel was prepared by using the metastable fractal water channel formed by the distribution of droplets from the surface to the inside from large to small gradient during the floating-collision-merger process of oil-water emulsion, and solidified by combining the emulsion interface polymerization method.

Figure 2: Schematic diagram of the structure and dynamic contact angle curve of fractal self-pumping oil-hydrogel (a), homogeneous oil-hydrogel (b) and pure hydrogel (c).

Fractal self-pumping oil hydrogels utilize their internal fractal hydrogel channels to enable rapid liquid export. Taking homogeneous oil-hydrogel and pure hydrogel as controls, fractal self-pumping oil-hydrogel can quickly absorb droplets within 3 s (Figure 2a), while for homogeneous oil-hydrogel and pure hydrogel, droplet absorption is very slow (Fig. 2b-c), and after 150 s (homogeneous oil-hydrogel) and 90 s (pure hydrogel), respectively, the droplets cannot be completely absorbed. This is because homogeneous oil-hydrogels and pure hydrogels are composed of independently separated closed cavities, which cannot form a continuously conductive fractal channel like fractal self-pumping hydrogels, providing multiple graded capillary effects for rapid liquid export. This study provides a structural design model of rapid catheter wound dressings, which provides a very promising alternative for wound healing with the characteristics of excess continuous exudate such as burns.

Figure 3: Fractal self-pumping oil-hydrogel dressings promote burn wound healing in rats. a) Comparison of cavity areas (*labeled) in H&E stained sections of neonatal dermal after 7 days and 21 days of different treatments; b) Comparison of neonatal hair follicles (blue arrows) and blood vessels (red arrows) in immunohistochemical stained sections of neonatal tissues after 21 days of different treatments; c-e) Quantitative statistics of neodermal cavity area (c), number of new hair follicles (d) and vascular diameter (e).

(Source: Institute of Physical and Chemical Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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