ESR 6 – Novel Antibacterial Natural Polymers

Isabel Orlando – University of Westminster and Vornia Biomaterials

The Project:  Research is focused on the production of a drug-free antibacterial hydrogel for wound dressings.  Polymeric hydrogels are gaining importance because of their unique structure; a hydrogel can absorb a huge amount of water and hence ensures a moist environment necessary for new tissue to generate.  Moreover, if a cationic polymer is involved in production of the hydrogel, the material can show antibacterial activity by altering the physiological equilibrium of the bacteria through electrostatic interactions with their membranes.  Biopolymers are an interesting starting point for wound healing hydrogels because of their high degree of biocompatibility and biodegradability.  γ-polyglutamic acid will be produced through bacterial fermentation.  In addition, the production of bacterial cellulose via bacterial fermentation and its chemical functionalisation will o be investigated for the same purpose.  Finally, synthetic hyper-branched PEG based wound healing patches will be developed.

The Researcher:  Isabel has always studied chemistry, so the work involved in the project is a bit different from her background.  She has studied Industrial Chemistry at the University of Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum, where she graduated in October 2013 with a thesis on bioorganic synthesis focused on the production and characterisation of 9-hydroxystearic acid derivatives with antiproliferative activity against human colon cancer cells.  She also gained the master degree in October 2015 in the same faculty, where she carried out a 950 hours training on the synthesis of biologically active thiazoles, benzothiazoles and indoles whose properties have been tested in collaboration with the Department of Biochemistry.

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