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Breakthrough for compounds that assist tissue healing

23 May 2013

HRB-funded researchers at NUI Galway have made a significant breakthrough in the manufacture of dendritric polymers which could have wide applications in medical devices, drug delivery, elastics and adhesives.

Lead researcher, Dr Wenxin Wang from the Network of Excellence for Functional Biomaterials (NFB) in the National University of Galway Ireland has been working to find treatments for skin diseases such as Epidermolysis Bullosa, Diabetic Ulcers and acute and chronic skin wounds like incisional skin cuts.

'We have been investigating the use of materials called dendritic polymers for biomedical applications such as drug/gene delivery, cross linkable hydrogel materials and skin adhesives. Up to now, it has been very difficult to make large quantities of such polymers.

However our new process enables us to make these complex dendritic polymers with previously unimaginable ease. This process which we call ?vinyl oligomer combination? was developed by our team in collaboration with Dr Julien Poly from the Institut de Science des Matériaux de Mulhouse, France.

This synthesis method could also allow us to easily tailor polymer properties, such as structure, functionality, strength, size, density and degradation and this synthesis method could be used for a wide range of materials outside the biomedical field.'

The researchers took inspiration from ancient arts, and use their new technique to build up ?Celtic Knots?. These materials have chains that only link to themselves in an interlaced pattern. In addition, the new technique can also create hyper-branching polymers, which branch and spread outwards like trees.

As an example of the medical application, dendritic polymers can be used as a skin adhesive, for example delivered in a solution that forms the gel on the skin to cover and seal the wounds. These gel layers can also be used to release therapeutic drugs/genes to the area to promote accelerated healing.

The research, funded by the Health Research Board (HRB), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), DEBRA Ireland and DEBRA Austria is published in Nature Communications journal at the first link below.

More information is also available from the press release on the NUI Galway website at the second link.

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