Advancing Wound Healing: from Surgical Technology to New and Improved Hydrogel Therapies

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2026-06-06

Date

2024

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Abstract

Wound healing is a vastly complicated process. While this can be said about many biological functions in the body, wounds present a particularly difficult problem due to their inherent irregularity or uniqueness. Because different wounds behave and heal differently, or not at all, different therapies must be developed to treat them effectively. The research presented here details several approaches to progress not only the entire field of wound healing research, but also focuses on hydrogel technology improvements. Using titanium 3D printing, cap-able splints were constructed to not only ease the surgical process but also enable efficient daily wound access for treatment administration or wound tracking over time without the need to completely undress and redress the wound. The titanium splints did prove effective for daily monitoring but did still require some surgical prowess. To remove the need for surgical skills, an adhesive wound splint was developed by incorporating ethoxylated polyethyleneimine (EO-PEI) into the traditional polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS) polymer recipe resulting in adhesive PDMS (aPDMS). The aPDMS splints drastically reduced surgery time per animal without compromising wound splinting performance. Traditional bulk hydrogels have been used in wound healing research but have yet to be clinically implemented in a widespread manner due in part to their resistance to cellular infiltration or integration with the host. Using hyaluronidase (HAase) on a hyaluronic acid (HA) based hydrogels to partially degrade the surface of bulk gels yielded a looser nano-scale mesh size that enhanced cellular infiltration into the gel and granted better access to nanoparticle therapy loaded within. Finally, a biologically active viscous salve loaded with heavy chains (HC) of the serum protein Inter-α Inhibitor (IαI) was designed to leverage HC’s ability to mitigate the inflammatory response such that normal wound healing regeneration could ensue.

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Dissertation

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Citation

Miller, Andrew (2024). Advancing Wound Healing: from Surgical Technology to New and Improved Hydrogel Therapies. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/30966.

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