A wound healing hydrogel developed by Nazarbayev University scientists

This November, a research team from the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, National Laboratory Astana (NLA), Nazarbayev University will present their project – a wound healing hydrogel for patients with skin burns and injuries – in a highly competitive USA International Business Incubation Program. During a competitive selection process sponsored by Global Innovation through Science and Technology (GIST) Initiative, the research team won full sponsorship to attend the Business Incubation Program, which supports innovators in international science and technology looking to expand their startups into the US market. 

The research team is represented by scientists from Nazarbayev University – Sholpan Askarova and Bauyrzhan Umbayev, and Malika Shertay, a student of the master’s program in Biotechnology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

– Future perspectives and benefits of the product are an opportunity to treat patients not only with skin burns and injuries but also with diabetic foot, which is a critical problem not only in the USA but also in the developing countries, including Kazakhstan. The ointment is designed to be easy to use and safe – it uses simple technology and natural components that do not cause an allergic reaction, – comments Bauyrzhan Umbayev, leading researcher of the Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, NLA.

According to the researchers, wound damage and skin burns remain important clinical problems in everyday medical practice, and complications from them are unfortunately common – causing further medical conditions and increased mortality. As the prevalence of chronic traumatic injury increases with age, it was estimated that the incidence of chronic wounds is 120 per 100 000 population aged 45 to 65 years and increases to 800 per 100 000 population at the age of more than 75 years. According to the World Health Organization, skin burns causes 180 000 cases of death annually. New products such as this wound healing hydrogel potentially could treat those patients as well as save the overall cost of the wound care industry. 

 -The hydrogel is designed as an ointment and the main components consist of natural growth factors suspended in a polymer hydrogel. We tested the hydrogel on animal subjects and achieved promising results, – said the research team’s leader, Sholpan Askarova, the Head of Laboratory of Bioengineering and Regenerative Medicine, NLA.

As the marketing manager of the research team, Malika Shertay will present the project at the GIST Business Incubation Program and then work on further product development and assessment of its entry into the global market.

Currently, the project is at its early pre-clinical stage of development. In the future, the research team expects to run clinical trials of the hydrogel. Once it is commercialized, patients will be able to purchase it from local pharmacies, although there is no exact geographic location of commercialization yet.