New gel to combat wounds

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are developing a gel to treat combat soldiers in the field suffering from infected wounds, such as burns or abrasions. The new technology is said to address the critical needs of soldiers fighting in isolated areas without the availability of nearby medical equipment.

The gel is a liquid emulsion that when applied to the wound, acts as a second skin, forming a protective layer that is permeable to air and water, but guards against microorganisms. The emulsion contains control-released antimicrobial agents to treat the wound.

Either sprayed-on or rolled-on, the emulsion layer is translucent, so the wound can be monitored or examined during the healing process without having to remove the emulsion. The layer can be removed safely with alcohol.

In addition, the layer is durable enough to help the wound endure rain, mud and other elements for up to two weeks.

The gel – called bicompatible skin barriers – was developed at Georgia Tech’s School of Chemical Engineering under the leadership of chemical engineering professors Jan W. Gooch and F. Joseph Schork. The gel is being tested under the guidance of Professor Gooch at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research.

‘It is imperative that the most advanced, life-saving innovations accompany the troops,’ Gooch said. ‘We must recognise the unique needs of our armed forces for as many advances as possible in the area of trauma medicine and treatment delivery.’

The gel is still in the clinical-trials phase, but the recent attacks and deployment of the US military have changed the researchers’ original timetable for completion, Gooch said.

He expects that human clinical trials could begin within two months, with US Food Drug Administration (FDA) approval coming within a year.