Dr. Nic Leipzig, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, will continue the development of an innovative wound dressing with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) R15GM104851. The three-year grant will fund Leipzig’s creation and testing of a wound dressing that is able to support regenerative levels of oxygen to supplement – or even take the place of – current oxygen delivery therapies.
Oxygen plays an important role in the healing process, particularly in chronic, non-healing wounds that can become extremely problematic for patients with diabetes. In some cases, when oxygen levels are extremely low and the wound cannot properly heal, amputation may even be required. Leipzig and his team have an innovative solution – an injectable/moldable hydrogel that contains elevated levels of oxygen to improve short- and long-term skin healing.
Improving today’s medical solutions
Current oxygen delivery therapies are intermittent, inconvenient for the patient, and require access to expensive and specialized equipment such as a hyperbaric oxygen chamber. In contrast, Leipzig’s hydrogels can sustain elevated oxygen levels needed for healing for more than 24 hours, and potentially up to five days. These hydrogels are easily formed into dressings with the potential to provide uniform, sustained oxygenation across the wound, improving outcomes for the patient.
As part of the NIH-funded research, the team of graduate, undergraduate and high school students will create and refine oxygen delivery hydrogels and conduct preclinical proof of concept studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of the hydrogels in wound healing. The ability to supply oxygen from a convenient hydrogel dressing could transform chronic would-healing while providing new tools for studying the role of oxygen in correcting other tissue injuries, disease or disorders.