Library Dissertation Showcase

Development of Antimicrobial Gels for the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2021

Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) affect up to 7% of diabetes sufferers, with up to 24% of them resulting in foot amputation. On top of this, the NHS spend millions of pounds every year on the treatment of DFUs. Current treatments are unpleasant for patients, too costly and not effective enough and therefore alternatives are needed to improve patient quality of life and reduce the economic impact on the NHS. Hydrogels are made of cross-linked polymers and water. They are a promising treatment for DFUs due to the moist environment they create, their ease of application and ability to flow and fit into the wound site. However, their rheological properties can also negatively affect their formulation. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) is a polymer ideal for use in hydrogels as it is non-toxic, biodegradable and water soluble. Metals, such as copper, zinc and zinc oxide, possess antimicrobial properties, with less resistance than traditional antimicrobials. Therefore, their effect on hydrogel properties was studied here. HPMC hydrogels containing copper, zinc and zinc oxide were prepared by stirring at room temperature and rheological testing was carried out on the samples. HPMC, copper and zinc hydrogels all had a tendency towards liquid like properties. Copper and zinc ions both formed metal complexes with polymer chains however the two gels showed different rheological properties. The addition of copper disrupted the gel structure as the complexes formed reduced polymer-polymer interactions. In contrast, the zinc hydrogel was more stable due to the full occupancy of its electron orbitals however it had an unattractive appearance. The zinc oxide hydrogel was the only one to show a clear gel point and had the most attractive a ppea ranee, making it the most promising of the gels studied here and with further testing and microbiological studies could be a promising treatment for DFUs.

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