Wound healing is not a simple matter for patients with health issues that may undermine the process. Diabetic ulcers and other irregularly shaped wounds are treated with injectable hydrogels to keep the site stable and promote healing with a temporary matrix. A limitation is that the porosity of these materials is not Electron microscope image of the porous hydrogel. Source: University of New HampshireElectron microscope image of the porous hydrogel. Source: University of New Hampshiresufficient to allow passage of cells that facilitate rejuvenation.

The porosity problem was addressed by researchers at the University of New Hampshire, who developed a simple, cost-effective injectable macroporous hydrogel made of gelatin microgels cross-linked by the enzyme microbial transglutaminase (mTG). Pores were created by the interstitial space among the microgels, and a water-in-oil emulsion technique was used to form gelatin microgels of an average size of 250 μm in diameter. When cross-linked with mTG, the microgels adhered to each other to establish a bulk hydrogel with inherent pores large enough for cell migration.

The potential wound healing benefits of the gelatin microgels were demonstrated with a porcine cornea model. The mTG-infused porous hydrogel was observed to adhere to the tissue for two weeks, and a significant number of corneal tissue cells migrated into the interstitial space of the hydrogel.

The new injectable material can also be applied to the slow release of protein drugs to aid wound healing, such as platelet-derived growth factor.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com