New technology can revolutionize the treatment of pediatric burns

Burns are one of the most common injuries suffered by Australians and one of the leading causes of death in children under four. While survival rates in burn patients have improved significantly, the treatment of pediatric burns remains a challenge, especially with the rise of multidrug-resistant bacteria.

Researchers from Adelaide are developing a new treatment for serious burns 7NEWS

Video credit: University of South Australia

Now, new technology from the University of South Australia can revolutionize the treatment of burns in children by using stimulus-responsive dressings that safely reduce infection and stimulate healing.

This study is based on the latest publications of the research team in the journals Acta Biomaterialia and Biomedicines, describing the antimicrobial efficacy of ultra-small silver antiparticles against biofuels for wounds.

The advanced hydrogel coating of silver nanoparticles, developed by a research team at UniSA’s Future Industries Institute (Dr. Zlatko Kopecki, Professor Alison Cowin and Professor Krassimir Vassilev), will provide on-demand release of ultra-small silver nanoparticles can safely break down antibiotic-resistant bacteria and promote wound healing.

The innovation in treatment lies in a delivery system that responds to changes in pH and temperature, activating only in the presence of infection.

Lead researcher Dr. Zlatko Kopecki of UniSA says the new treatment could significantly change the clinical management of burn infections.

Wound infection and sepsis are daily problems for children with burns.

Silver-based wound care products can inhibit the growth of bacteria, but can also cause toxicity when they deliver too much silver to wounds.

Our treatment is unique in that it takes advantage of the antibacterial properties of silver, but avoids excessive exposure by activating only when an infection is present.

These advanced silver nanoparticle dressings will regulate inflammation on demand, while promoting tissue regeneration, making it a much safer and more effective treatment for children.

Dr. Zlatko Kopecki, lead researcher, UniSA

Professor Vassilev of UniSA says the new technology will change the game of burn management.

There are currently no sensitive wound dressings on the market. This joint effort will allow the use of intelligent materials for the benefit of patients and clinicians. ”

Professor Vasilev, UniSA

In Australia, approximately 50,000 burn-related hospitalizations are reported each year, with young children at particular risk. Burn burns (65%) or flame burns (20%) are the most common burn-related injuries in children under four years of age.

Nearly 75% of all burns are preventable.

Research partners Dr. Bernard Carney and Dr. Andrew May, from the Burns Unit of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH), are working in partnership with UniSA to better understand the pathogens present in childhood burns and to develop targeted therapy approach.

“Each year, WCH’s burn unit treats about 600 children who suffer from burns, and burns make up a significant portion of these injuries,” says Dr. May.

“Most often these incidents happen at home. Children under the age of five are most at risk because they like to imitate the behavior of adults, which means that hot drinks, taps and pots are big danger zones.

“Despite modern advances in burn surgery, the infection remains a major challenge for these vulnerable children, and therefore topical silver treatments are widely used to combat it.

“We are happy to be working with the great minds at UniSA to offer new silver treatments to give children the greatest opportunity to recover from burns and live their best lives.”


University of South Australia

Journal links:

  • Haidari, H., et al. (2021) A multifunctional ultra-small AgNP hydrogel accelerates the healing of wounds infected with S. aureus. Acta Biomaterialia.
  • Haidari, H., et al. (2021) Eradication of mature bacterial biofilms while improving the healing of chronic wounds by treatment with silver hydrogel nanoparticles. Biomedicine.

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