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The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » September 30, 2013
Medicine
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A Dressing for Hard-to-Heal Wounds
September 30, 2013   
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A biotechnology student from northern Poland is making a name for himself at home and abroad after inventing an innovative dressing for hard-to-heal wounds.

Karol Bocian, a fourth-year biotechnology student at the University of Technology and Life Sciences in Bydgoszcz, has already won awards for his biodegradable nanocellulose dressing that will be particularly effective in treating problems such as burns and diabetic foot ulcers.

His hydrogel dressing has medicinal properties and aids the healing process. According to the inventor, the dressing enables the wound to “breathe” while the scars left behind are less visible.

The dressing uses an extract of a plant called ribwort plantain (Plantago lanceolata)—a weed commonly found on cultivated land—that contains active ingredients which accelerate wound healing and have been used for generations in natural medicine.

The dressing also uses nanosilver, which has strong antibacterial properties and is effective against strains of bacteria resistant to strong antibiotics such as Staphylococcus aureus.

The invention won a gold medal at the 61st Brussels Innova International Exhibition of Innovation, Research and New Technology last year. It also won an award at this year’s Student Inventor competition held by the Kielce University of Technology in central Poland.

The most important material in the dressing is nanocellulose, or purified plant cellulose in the form of tiny, nano-scale particles. The material is about 96 percent composed of water. Thanks to this, the tissue subject to treatment has constant access to moisture. The nanocrystalline structure of the cellulose means that despite the high moisture there is a constant supply of oxygen, so the wound can “breathe” and heals faster. The dressing can be removed and changed without sticking to the wound.

The dressing also contains multifunctional cellulose. These are larger particles of plant origin that strengthen the structure of the dressing. The material absorbs secretions that accompany the healing of ulcers and diabetic wounds, for example.

Another important component of the dressing, nanosilver, or silver in the form of nanoparticles, has strong antibacterial properties. It is 100 percent effective in the case of the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which is resistant to antibiotics, according to Bocian. It destroys most bacteria that cause infections after surgery and hospitalization.

Nanocellulose is biocompatible and hypoallergenic. It does not cause any allergies or immune reactions, nor is it rejected by the body, Bocian says.

The invention has been developed in collaboration with Military Clinical Hospital No. 10 in Bydgoszcz and researchers including Agnieszka Grzelakowska, Ph.D., and Paweł Grzelakowski, Ph.D., under the guidance of Prof. Janusz Hermann.

“I very much hope the invention will be put on the market, because it can help many people heal their wounds. The project needs to be expanded and collaboration with a pharmaceutical company would be needed for clinical trials to take place. At the moment this is not the kind of stage we’re at; laboratory tests are still in progress,” says Bocian.

“My biggest dream is to conduct clinical trials related to the use of my dressing and further research on nanocellulose,” says Bocian. He adds that biotechnology offers a wealth of opportunities for new discoveries and the rapid development of science.

Karolina Olszewska
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