Korean researchers pioneer antibiotic-free technology for skin wound healing < Hospital < Article

Korean researchers pioneer antibiotic-free technology for skin wound healing < Hospital < Article

Researchers at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital (SNUBH) have successfully developed and demonstrated a groundbreaking technology that expedites skin wound healing devoid of antibiotics, leveraging metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).


A research team, led by Professors Heo Chan-yeong (left) at SNUBH and Choi Kyung-min at Sookmyung Women's University, developed a new technology that can treat wounds without using antibiotics. (Credit: SNUBH)
A research team, led by Professors Heo Chan-yeong (left) at SNUBH and Choi Kyung-min at Sookmyung Women’s University, developed a new technology that can treat wounds without using antibiotics. (Credit: SNUBH)


Antibiotics have undeniably been instrumental in prolonging human life by thwarting infections caused by bacteria and other pathogens. Nonetheless, the widespread and indiscriminate utilization of antibiotics in recent times has triggered a concerning rise in antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” posing an eminent global health hazard. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated antibiotic resistance as one of the paramount threats to worldwide public health, underscoring the urgent need for heightened awareness and comprehensive measures to address this pressing issue.


The issue of antibiotic overuse is particularly acute in the case of topical antibiotics, such as ointments, pills, and injections, which are readily available to the general public and often used excessively for minor wounds.


This has led to complacency in both the public and medical institutions regarding their use, even in situations where the risk of infection is low.


Despite recommendations against the preventive use of topical antibiotics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and dermatological associations in the U.S. and Europe, a lack of alternative methods for rapid wound healing has been a significant challenge.


In response, the research team, led by Professor Heo Chan-yeong of the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at SNUBH, harnessed the properties of MOFs, which are typically used for the storage and separation of gases and molecules, to regulate the amount of major inflammatory mediators that hinder wound healing.


Professor Choi Kyung-min of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and the Institute of Advanced Materials & Systems at Sookmyung Women’s University also participated in the study.


Animal studies conducted by the team revealed that Zirconium metal-organic frameworks (Zr-MOFs) could be stably applied in biological environments, effectively eliminating reactive oxygen species (ROS), nitric oxide (NO), and cytokines, thereby doubling the efficacy of wound healing.


The team stressed that the study marks a significant advancement in developing a source technology for fast and efficient wound healing without antibiotics, potentially contributing to the global fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria.


“This technology can dramatically reduce the global problem of topical antibiotic overuse,” Professor Heo said. “Since it works by removing overexpressed substances, it can potentially be extended to other treatments requiring a similar approach.”


The research results were published in Advanced Healthcare Materials.

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