Antimicrobial peptides, commonly used today as food preservatives, show potential for being developed into the next generation of antibiotics, where traditional antibiotics have become ineffectual. This study introduces a highly tailorable injectable hydrogel that could protect and deliver these food preservatives to a site of infection, such as a surgical site, topical wound or internal infection. The published study was added to the Top 50 Authors of 2020 in the Journal of Materials Chemistry B.
Lead author of the paper, Dr James Flynn explained “The incorporation of glycol chitosan (GC) into an injectable polysaccharide hydrogel allows the swelling and stiffness of the gel to be modulated without sacrificing ideal conditions for an encapsulated antimicrobial peptide (AMP). In other investigations, the strength of hydrogels has been modulated through means of varying salt concentrations within the gel, however this would render the gels unsuitable for peptides and other biologics. By introducing GC into these gels, the mechanical strength of the gels was increased through varying GC concentrations and reducing the degree of covalent bonding in the gels formed. The incorporation of GC does not affect the cytotoxicity, and was also found to act synergistically with nisin in the inhibition of the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, a problematic pathogen. This study introduces a highly tuneable platform for the encapsulation and subsequent release of the AMP nisin for at least 10 days. Further development and in vivo testing will help define, develop and utilise this system for a range of different clinical applications, such as anti-biofilm coatings, coating for medical devices, controlled release delivery depots for infection control and prevention and other AMPs.”