Cornell University researchers have identified a new way to harness the antioxidant and antibacterial properties of a botanical compound to create nanofiber-coated cotton bandages that fight infection and help wounds heal more quickly.
The findings are particularly important given the increasing prevalence of multidrug-resistant bacteria.
Cotton gauze is one of the most common wound dressings; It is cheap, readily available, comfortable and bio-compatible. However, it does not cure or fight infection.
“Cotton alone cannot provide an answer to this complexity—it needs to be biofunctionalized,” said lead author Mohsen Alishahi, a fiber science doctoral student working in the Nanofibers and Nanotextiles (NanoFibtex) Laboratory.
One of its main research interests is developing functional fibers from sustainable materials and exploring their potential applications in medical textiles and drug delivery systems, said Tamer Wuer, associate professor and director of the lab.
The researchers used lawson, a red-orange compound found in henna leaves that has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, to boost cotton’s performance.
The experimental dressing had excellent antibacterial activity against Gram-negative and Gram-positive bacterial species and was effectively tested against E. coli and staph bacteria were eliminated.
Prolonged overuse of synthetic antibiotics at high concentrations has contributed to the growing epidemic of deadly multidrug-resistant bacteria. So using natural and strong anti-bacterials like Lawson can work as an alternative to synthetic anti-bacterials.
Tamer Wuer, Associate Professor, Cornell University
“Wound dressings should provide a suitable environment for healing and infection prevention,” says Alishahi. “Using all-natural ingredients like cotton, cyclodextrin, and lotion, this dressing can facilitate both because it has extensive antioxidant and anti-bacterial activity.”
Alishahi says the dressing will be especially helpful for chronic wounds that are highly susceptible to infection, such as diabetic ulcers and burns. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties will further benefit scarring by reducing the formation of scars.
This research was funded by Cotton Inc.
Alishahi, M., etc. (2024). Functionalization of cotton nonwovens with cyclodextrin/lawson inclusion complex nanofibrous coatings for antibacterial wound dressings. International Journal of Pharmaceutics. doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpharm.2024.123815.