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Activated carbon-plasticised agarose composite films for the adsorption of thiol as a model of wound malodour

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Conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and long-term immobilisation can precipitate the development of chronic dermal ulcers. Such wounds are associated with inflammation and bacterial contamination which in turn can lead to the liberation of offensive odours that cause patient embarrassment and, in some instances, social isolation. Activated carbon-containing dressings have been used to manage the odours from such wounds. However, these can be bulky and can become fouled by wound exudate. Agarose is a natural polysaccharide derived from seaweed that forms brittle free-standing films that can be made pliable by addition of a plasticiser. In this study, activated carbon-containing plasticised agarose films were evaluated for their ability to sequester thiol-containing molecules from solution and the gaseous phase. The water vapour transmission rate was also evaluated to determine the potential breathability of these films should they be considered for application to the skin. It was found that the adsorption of thiols was directly proportional to the activated carbon content of the films. Water vapour was found to pass relatively freely through the films indicating that sweat-induced tissue maceration would be unlikely to occur if applied clinically. In conclusion, activated carbon-containing plasticised agarose films have some potential in the sequestration of malodourous molecules such as those liberated from chronic dermal wounds.

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Thanks to Dr Guy Standen, University of Brighton, for light microscopy images. This project has received funding from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014–2020 co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under subsidy contract number DERMA 2SO1-027 and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Kazakhstan, project Carbon-polymer dressings for the treatment of chronic ulcers. MI and TN acknowledge financial support of the Royal Academy of Engineering, grant IAPP/1516/12 ‘Wound dressings for malodorous chronic ulcers’. Graphical abstract assistance from the University of Portsmouth, Media Production Centre.

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Correspondence to I. U. Allan.

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Illsley, M., Akhmetova, A., Bowyer, C. et al. Activated carbon-plasticised agarose composite films for the adsorption of thiol as a model of wound malodour. J Mater Sci: Mater Med 28, 154 (2017).

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