'Smart' hydrogel wound dressing delivers drugs from reservoirs

Hydrogel with drug delivery mechanisms--Courtesy of MIT

Scientists at MIT have created a diagnostic hydrogel wound dressing that could also deliver drugs based on skin temperature and other signs of medicinal need.

Hydrogels make for flexible, sticky wound dressings due to their water-based nature, and they are also very amenable to electronics that can give notice to a patient regarding the wound.

"Electronics are usually hard and dry, but the human body is soft and wet. These two systems have drastically different properties," researcher Xuanhe Zhao said in a statement. "If you want to put electronics in close contact with the human body for applications such as health care monitoring and drug delivery, it is highly desirable to make the electronic devices soft and stretchable to fit the environment of the human body. That's the motivation for stretchable hydrogel electronics."

In addition to making the hydrogel interactive with electronic components, the researchers used drug reservoirs within the hydrogel to release the treatments into the skin. Their work was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

"It's a very versatile matrix," researcher Hyunwoo Yuk said. "The unique capability here is, when a sensor senses something different, like an abnormal increase in temperature, the device can on demand release drugs to that specific location and select a specific drug from one of the reservoirs, which can diffuse in the hydrogel matrix for sustained release over time."

- here's the MIT story
- read the research abstract