Mass. General Hospital Develops New Hydrogel To Help Treat Burn Patients

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BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital are developing a new technology that will help treat burn victims.

This new technology is a hydrogel that is placed directly on burn wounds and then covered up with a secondary type of wound dressing. The hydrogel is meant to make it easier and less painful to change wound dressings on patients.

Dr. Aslihan Gokaltun, an instructor with the Department of Surgery and Bioengineering at Shriner's Children's Hospital, told WBZ's James Rojas removing wound dressings on burn patients can be very painful for patients.

"They usually use opioids or pain relievers or anesthesia for children since it is too painful," she said. "The hydrogel structure is a mesh structure designed to break apart when we use a solution."

When applied, the hydrogel can cover a wound in around 15 seconds and can be dissolved in five minutes. It's also designed to eliminate any toxic or reactive chemicals in the wound dressings.

Dr. O. Berk Usta, who works in the Center for Engineering in Medicine and Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, said the new technology will not only help make treating wounds on burn victims less traumatic for patients, but it will also help medical professionals as well.

"It's traumatic as a human to see that or to see a kid screaming," he said. "I think it will be psychologically better for the healthcare professionals."

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The study on the new tech was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and Shriners Hospitals.

Dr. Ayse Asatekin, an associate professor of Chemical and Bioengineering at Tufts University, said she enjoys seeing new developments in medical technology like this.

"I find it really exciting to learn about new problems we can find solutions to as engineers," she said.

The treatment is still undergoing clinical trials. If approved, it may take years before it is put into practice.

WBZ's James Rojas (@JamesRojasNews) reports.

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