Gelatin hydrogels show promise for open wound care

Researchers in South Korea have developed a new strategy to produce dopamine-containing tissue adhesive gelatin hydrogels, an advance that could improve the treatment of open wounds.


Sutures and staples are common wound closure methods, but they can cause secondary tissue injuries. Tissue adhesive glues are a more attractive solution but can suffer from toxicity and weak adhesion.

Another form of treatment in the form of tissue adhesive patches allow precise control of adhesion and mechanical properties through adjustable polymeric compositions. These patches can also deliver drugs directly to wounds, enhancing recovery. While existing adhesive patches containing catecholamines such as dopamine (DA) have shown promise, they face challenges due to slow oxidation and weak bonding with the polymer backbone.

Now, researchers led by Associate Professor Kyung Min Park at Incheon National University believe they have found an effective solution to these limitations. Their findings are detailed in Composites Part B: Engineering.


Their approach is centred around the addition of calcium peroxide (CaO2) as an ingredient when preparing the hydrogel solution, giving rise to gelatin-based oxygen-generating tissue adhesives (GOTs).

This compound reacts easily with water to release molecular oxygen (O2), facilitating the oxidation of DA molecules, promoting DA polymerisation and healing of the wound.

“Oxygen is a critical metabolic substrate or signalling molecule in the body. In particular, hyperoxia, which essentially means high oxygen concentration, has been demonstrated to facilitate wound healing processes and tissue regeneration by promoting cell proliferation, blood vessel formation, and wound remodelling,” Dr Park said in a statement.

The researchers conducted in vitro and in vivo experiments demonstrating that their GOTs improved coagulation, blood closure, and neovascularisation. These GOTs, in addition to their oxygen generation, allowed for easy control of gelation and mechanical properties, providing strong tissue adhesion in the 15–38kPa range.

According to the team, the GOTs represent the first reported bioadhesive, and the first tissue adhesive material, that can generate oxygen.

“We would like to pursue clinical trials and commercialisation of this material through follow-up research and ultimately contribute to improving the quality of human life by developing next-generation tissue adhesive materials that can be applied to humans,” said Dr Park.