DOST scientists develop honey wound dressing
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - February 20, 2014 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Department of Science and Technology (DOST) scientists have developed a wound dressing from indigenous honey, which shows promise as better than antibiotics in healing wounds, particularly burns.

Researchers from the DOST’s Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (PNRI) have tapped the antimicrobial properties of locally sourced honey to produce a cheaper alternative equal if not superior to antibiotics for treating exterior wounds and burns.

PNRI researchers are now conducting clinical trials to prove the efficacy of the honey bandage, after which they will go into commercialization.

“Honey has, since ancient days, been used for medicinal purposes. Its composition makes it a very effective agent for healing wounds,” said Biomedical Research Section head Zenaida de Guzman.

According to De Guzman, honey is ideal as a wound dressing not only for its antimicrobial and potentially anti-inflammatory composition, but also for its low pH level that is suitable for fast healing.

Its sugar content helps in the granulation of wounds, while its low moisture gives honey a longer shelf life.

Honey’s low water activity also helps the dressing draw out water and pus, thus drying the wound and reducing the chances of infection.

Among the samples obtained from the University of the Philippines Los Baños, three indigenous types of honey stood out: the pineapple flower honey from Bacolod which proved comparable to the average antibiotic; the scarce coconut honey from Mindanao; and the natural dark honey found in the highlands of Northern Luzon.

The latter two matched, and at times even bested, antibiotics in dealing with pathogens such as Staphylococus aureus.

As they are readily available, these honey samples provided the material for the PNRI research section’s honey dressings.

Results from initial testing in rabbits showed that the dressing healed the wounds around the same time as the generic Neomycin. 

In some cases, the honey treatment took effect a day ahead of the antibiotic.

Pre-clinical testing conducted in a government hospital showed that using honey dressing, full treatment of a burn patient was achieved a month earlier than the usual healing time.

Sodium alginate made from brown algae, used by hospitals for dressings, serves as a base for the honey treatment. 

They are mixed and molded into a gauze before being sprayed with calcium chloride to bind them. 

After being cured, dried and packaged in vacuum-packed aluminum foil, the dressing is irradiated at 25 kilogray at PNRI’s Multipurpose Irradiation Facility to keep it microbe-free and longer-lasting.

The Biomedical Research Section applied for the honey dressing’s patent last year and hopes to eventually finish the clinical tests. 

De Guzman expects the product’s commercialization to begin by 2015.

BIOMEDICAL RESEARCH SECTION DE GUZMAN DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DRESSING HONEY MULTIPURPOSE IRRADIATION FACILITY NORTHERN LUZON PHILIPPINE NUCLEAR RESEARCH INSTITUTE UNIVERSITY OF THE PHILIPPINES LOS BA
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