Introducing a bio-safe thermo-responsive hydrogel in burn injury and reconstructive surgery

Dr Joanneke Maitz1,2,3, Dr Kevin  Tsai1,2,3, Dr Yiwei Wang1,2, Dr Yuen Yee Cheng4, Dr Ali Fathi3, Mr Terence Abrams3, Dr Ivan Chester Canoy5, Dr  Vivek Ashoka Menon5, A/Prof Kenneth Lee5, Prof Peter Maitz1,2,6

1Anzac Research Institute, Concord, Australia, 2Burn Injury and Reconstructive Surgery Unit, Concord, Australia, 3Tetratherix , Alexandria, Australia, 4Asbestos Disease Research Institute, Concord, Australia, 5Department of Pathology, Concord, Australia, 6Concord Clinical School, USyd, Concord, Australia


Objective: Hydrogel-based adhesives are promising alternatives to facilitate wound repair in soft tissue injury. The aim of this study is to assess the safety of a novel angio-conductive, injectable, bioresorbable, and thermo-responsive hydrogel that can be used in dermal wound healing.

Methods: The biosafety and biocompatibility of the thermo-responsive gel was examined using mouse models (Balb/c, 12 weeks old). In a one-stage graft model, two adjacent full-thickness wounds were covered with either gel or Integra® followed by an autologous full-thickness skin graft. Skin graft take rate, neovascularization and wound histology was evaluated. In a toxicology mouse model, thermo-responsive gel in serial concentrations were subcutaneously injected at 8% body weight and local skin response, systemic biomarkers and organ pathology was evaluated.

Results: In the graft model, gel covered wounds demonstrated a significant higher skin graft take rate and angiogenesis signals compared to Integra covered wounds. In the toxicology model, the thermo-responsive gel demonstrated to be easily injected in all concentrations, forming an instant composite adhesive gel, setting in an anatomical allocation of the wound. Concentration dependant degradation rate was observed, and histology analysis demonstrated limited inflammatory response. Excretion of the gel was found through respiratory pathways without pathological damage to kidneys, spleens or liver.

Conclusions: This study has demonstrated the biosafety of a novel thermo-responsive gel in two models, demonstrating its potential as a dermal wound healing agent and its versatile application in the field of burn injury.


Dr. Joanneke Maitz is a plastic and reconstructive surgical medical officer and early career researcher in translational burn injury and reconstructive surgery. Dr. Maitz achieved a Bachelor of Science (Medicine) and a Master of Science (Medicine) at the Vrije University of Amsterdam with a thesis in burn injury wound care management using nanotechnology. Throughout Dr. Maitz’s clinical career, she has maintained a close working relationship between clinical work and research roles. Dr. Maitz achieved a Master of Philosophy (Surgery) in skin tissue engineering at the University of Sydney in 2019 and is enrolled in a Doctorate of Philosophy in wound healing, scarring and reconstructive surgery with a bio-engineering focus. Dr Maitz is an integral member of the clinical and laboratory-based research into the translational aspects of bioengineering in burns treatment and reconstructive including complex soft tissue loss due to trauma and/or diseases such as cancer and soft tissue infections. Complementary to research roles, Dr Maitz participates in regular complex tissue reconstruction surgeries including breast reconstruction after cancer using advanced microsurgical and bio-engineering principles at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and other health care facilities.

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