‘Injectable bandage’: New hydrogel stops bleeding and promotes healing

a commonly used thickening agent known as kappa-carrageenan, obtained from seaweed,

Image: College of Engineering

With a gelling agent commonly used in preparing pastries, researchers from Texas A&M University’s Inspired Nanomaterials and Tissue Engineering Laboratory have successfully fabricated an injectable bandage to stop bleeding and promote wound healing.

Akhilesh K. Gaharwar, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering, uses kappa-carrageenan and nanosilicates to form injectable hydrogels to promote hemostasis (the process to stop bleeding) and facilitate wound healing via a controlled release of therapeutics.

“Injectable hydrogels are promising materials for achieving hemostasis in case of internal injuries and bleeding, as these biomaterials can be introduced into a wound site using minimally invasive approaches,” Gaharwar said. “An ideal injectable bandage should solidify after injection in the wound area and promote a natural clotting cascade. In addition, the injectable bandage should initiate wound healing response after achieving hemostasis.”

Gaharwar and his research team recently published their study as an article titled “Nanoengineered Injectable Hydrogels for Wound Healing Application” in the journal Acta Biomaterialia. Federal funding for the research comes from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

The study applied a commonly used thickening agent known as kappa-carrageenan, obtained from seaweed, to design injectable hydrogels. Hydrogels are a 3-D water swollen polymer network, similar to Jell-O, simulating the structure of human tissues.

When kappa-carrageenan is mixed with clay-based nanoparticles, injectable gelatin is obtained. The charged characteristics of clay-based nanoparticles provide hemostatic ability to the hydrogels. Specifically, plasma protein and platelets form blood adsorption on the gel surface and trigger a blood-clotting cascade.

“Interestingly, we also found that these injectable bandages can show a prolonged release of therapeutics that can be used to heal the wound” said Giriraj Lokhande, a graduate student in Gaharwar’s lab and first author of the paper. “The negative surface charge of nanoparticles enabled electrostatic interactions with therapeutics thus resulting in the slow release of therapeutics.”

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