Researchers have synthesized a nanocomposite made of plant-derived cellulose nanocrystals and silver nanoparticles that has been shown to speed up the wound-healing process in mice, making it potentially useful for treating wounds in diabetics1.

Skin wounds heal quickly in healthy individuals, but they turn into deep sores in diabetics, creating severe infections in underlying tissues. Most of the existing materials used as wound dressings are expensive and not biocompatible.To prepare a biocompatible wound-dressing material, scientists from the CSIR-Institute of Himalayan Bioresource Technology, in Palampur, India,

prepared the nanocomposite by mixing silver nitrate solution with cellulose nanocrystals isolated from the leaves of the Syzygium cumini , or jamun, plant. They then tested the nanocomposite’s efficiency in healing diabetic wounds in mice.

The nanocomposite was able to trap wound exudates, which keep the wound site moist — an essential property to prevent tissue death from dehydration and to accelerate wound healing.

Specific microbes are known to invade wounds, delaying the healing process. When exposed to these wound-inhabiting microbes, the nanocomposite killed them.

Ointments and strips were made using the nanocomposite, with the ointments healing the wounds in mice faster than the strips.

The presence of pores in the nanocompositefacilitated differentiation, migration and proliferation of specific cells at wound sites. These, in turn, quickened the repair process, bringing it to completion by growing hair follicles.