Food scientists from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) have developed a way to create antibacterial gel bandages using the discarded husks of the popular tropical fruit, durian.
Known as the “King of Fruits” in Southeast Asia, the durian has a thick husk with spiky thorns which is discarded, while the sweet flesh surrounding the seeds on the inside is considered a delicacy.
By extracting high-quality cellulose from the durian husks and combining it with glycerol – a waste by-product from the biodiesel and soap industry – NTU scientists were able to create a soft gel, similar to silicon sheets, which can be cut into bandages of various shapes and sizes.
They then added the organic molecules produced from baker’s yeast known as natural yeast phenolics, making the bandage deadly to bacteria. Conventional hydrogel patches are commonly available at pharmacies, usually used to cover wounds from surgery to minimise the formation of excessive scar tissue, resulting in a softer and flatter scar. The patch keeps the skin hydrated instead of drying up when conventional band-aid or gauze bandages are used.
Professor William Chen, the Director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology Programme and lead scientists behind the study said conventional hydrogel patches on the market are made from synthetic materials such as polymers like polymethacrylate and polyvinylpyrrolidone. Those with antimicrobial properties also use metallic compounds such as silver or copper ions. Such synthetic materials approved for use in biomedical applications are more costly as compared to the new hydrogel made from natural waste materials.
“With the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs, the world will need multiple alternative ways to prevent infections. An effective way to protect open wounds is with antimicrobial bandages that are biocompatible and safe for prolonged use by humans. This is especially important for diabetic patients suffering from chronic wounds,” explained Prof Chen.
A low-cost #antibacterial #hydrogel bandage made from durian husk has been developed by @NTUsg scientists. It is shown to be effective against #bacteria like E. coli, S. aureus and prevent the formation of #biofilms. @ACSSustainable #NTUsg2025 #Research https://t.co/fzTiVLKjxF pic.twitter.com/reAV4c9Zpj
— NTU Singapore (@NTUsg) March 26, 2021
Why antimicrobial wound dressings are needed:
Wounds linked to chronic diseases are expected to become a more common health burden, where bacterial infection of skin wounds is a serious risk. The clinical advantage of the new hydrogel bandage is that the natural yeast phenolics embedded will help to prevent the growth of bacteria such as Gram-negative E. coli and Gram-positive S. aureus. and the subsequent formation of biofilms (a layer of slime that can lead to antimicrobial resistance within a bacteria colony).
As a proof of concept, the antimicrobial hydrogels were tested as a wound dressing on animal skin and showed good antimicrobial effects for up to 48 hours.
The new proof-of-concept hydrogel bandage is applied by simply laying it across the wound, just as with existing commercially available silicone gel sheets for wound dressing, the current gold-standard used following cosmetic surgeries to reduce scarring.