PhD Thesis Colloquium: Sushma Indrakumar (12/07/23)

Thesis title:

Silk-based Biomaterials for Wound Care and Tissue Regeneration

Faculty advisor(s):

Prof. Kaushik Chatterjee


12th July, 2023 (Wednesday), 04:00 PM (India Standard Time)


KPA Auditorium, Department of Materials Engineering


For most individuals, wound healing is a highly organized, straightforward process. However, there are instances where external intervention becomes necessary to support the body’s innate healing mechanism. In this thesis, four such unmet clinical challenges were identified: rapid blood clotting, personalized treatment of burns and chronic wounds, and stretchable implants. Herein, we present novel solutions utilizing silk protein in various formats, each serving a distinct purpose in its respective application. Silk protein (silk fibroin) is being leveraged as a promising biomaterial with potent wound-healing activity. The first experimental chapter describes efforts to develop a potent hemostat for hemorrhage control. The primary goal was to develop a first-aid product for use in a pre-hospital setting where professional healthcare providers are not readily available (such as for battlefield injuries, road accidents, etc.). Herein, a bilayered hemostatic foam was designed such that the top bioactive layer served as a tissue interfacial layer to minimize rebleeding without compromising the clotting abilities. The subsequent two chapters describe strategies for personalized treatment of difficult-to-heal wounds: burns and chronic wounds. It is crucial to recognize that every patient and wound type is unique and requires individualized attention and care. To this end, two dressing materials were developed: a hydrogel-based dressing for burns and a multifunctional bioceramic-based drug delivery platform for chronic wounds. These dressing materials were specially designed for point-of-care applications and personalized treatment. Notably, the in vivo studies revealed the superior healing efficacy of the burn dressing compared to the commercially available product. Moreover, the multifunctional bioceramic-based product exhibited promising antioxidant and antibacterial properties, making it a potential candidate for chronic wounds. The last part of the thesis introduces ultra-stretchable 3D printed biocompatible hydrogels. Herein, a ternary blend ink was carefully formulated for extrusion-based 3D printing. The developed hydrogel presented superior mechanical properties, including good stretchability and fatigue performance. These mechanically robust hydrogels have potential applications in stretchable implants, bioelectronics, and flexible wearables. This thesis was accomplished through a collaborative effort with Fibroheal Woundcare Pvt. Ltd., a startup based in Bangalore, India. Some products developed within the scope of this thesis are in the process of being commercialized. With the translation of these advancements into the market, we envision that technologies will be available in the clinic to alleviate clinical challenges for improved patient care.