Healing Gels from Plants Speed Up Wound Recovery

Jim Crocker
31st March, 2024

Healing Gels from Plants Speed Up Wound Recovery

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • Researchers developed a new "all-sugar" hydrogel dressing that can be injected into wounds for faster healing
  • The hydrogel, made from natural sugars, self-heals and acts as an antioxidant, aiding in wound recovery
  • In tests, the hydrogel promoted blood clotting, reduced inflammation, and supported new tissue growth
Healing skin wounds efficiently has been a persistent challenge in medical science. Traditional wound dressings often fall short in the clinic because they lack flexibility and the biological activity necessary to promote quick wound recovery. Researchers at Guangxi University and Shandong University have made a significant breakthrough in this area with the development of an innovative "all-sugar" hydrogel dressing[1]. This new dressing is designed to address the shortcomings of conventional options by providing an adjustable mechanical property that allows it to be injected directly into wounds, as well as enhanced bioactivity to speed up the healing process. The study introduces a hydrogel created from natural sugars found in okra polysaccharide (OP) and xyloglucan (XG). These plant-derived materials form a dynamic borate bonding network, which gives the hydrogel unique properties. Notably, the hydrogel is shear-thinning, meaning it becomes less viscous under stress, such as when being injected. This property allows the hydrogel to be easily applied to wounds, even those with irregular shapes. Once in place, the material quickly self-heals, or returns to its original viscosity, effectively filling the wound bed and providing a protective barrier. Additionally, the XG/OP hydrogels display an impressive ability to act as antioxidants, scavenging harmful free radicals with an efficiency rate of 73.9%. This antioxidant capacity is crucial in reducing oxidative stress at the wound site, which can otherwise impede healing. In vivo experiments, which involve testing on living organisms, have shown that the hydrogel not only assists with blood clotting but also reduces inflammation. Furthermore, it promotes collagen deposition and angiogenesis—the formation of new blood vessels—both of which are vital steps in the wound healing process. Collagen provides structural support for new tissue, while new blood vessels ensure that the healing tissue receives sufficient nutrients and oxygen. The significance of this new hydrogel dressing is underscored by the context of previous research. It's well-established that the wound microenvironment plays a critical role in healing, and that chronic wounds can lead to severe complications[2]. The development of hydrogel dressings, as noted in earlier studies, addresses the need for dressings that can maintain a moist environment, which is conducive to healing, while also being biocompatible and permeable[2]. Moreover, the threat of infection at the wound site cannot be overstated. Infections can lead to heightened inflammatory responses and disrupt the healing process[3]. The antibacterial properties of wound dressings are thus a significant focus in current research, and the new XG/OP hydrogel's capacity to reduce inflammation suggests potential in this area as well. The complexity of skin regeneration, involving a symphony of cellular activities and signaling molecules, has been a barrier to developing treatments that can effectively mimic and support the body's natural healing processes[4]. The XG/OP hydrogel appears to contribute positively to several stages of this process, including inflammation reduction and support for new tissue formation. The study from Guangxi University and Shandong University represents a promising advancement in wound care. By leveraging the natural properties of sugars derived from plants, the team has developed a hydrogel that is not only practical in its application—being injectable and self-healing—but also biologically active in a way that supports and accelerates the body's own healing mechanisms. This "all-sugar" hydrogel dressing has the potential to transform wound management in the clinic and may pave the way for new treatments that can effectively address the complex requirements of wound repair. With further development and clinical trials, this hydrogel could become a widely used solution for patients suffering from a variety of wounds, offering them faster recovery times and less discomfort.

MedicineBiotechPlant Science


Main Study

1) Injectable plant-derived polysaccharide hydrogels with intrinsic antioxidant bioactivity accelerate wound healing by promoting epithelialization and angiogenesis.

Published 28th March, 2024


Related Studies

2) Hydrogel Preparation Methods and Biomaterials for Wound Dressing.


3) Advancements and future directions in the antibacterial wound dressings - A review.


4) Extracellular matrix contribution to skin wound re-epithelialization.


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