Superabsorbent polymers have perceived increased penetration in the medical sector, with rapid technological developments, and significant funding from investors to research facilities for developing high performance products. The medical superabsorbent polymers market has been envisaged to depict an impressive rise in the period of forecast, 2018 to 2027. Roughly US$ 8,300 Mn worth of medical superabsorbent polymers will be sold to the medical industry worldwide by 2027-end. Road mishaps and accidents that lead to severe wounds and injuries are a key demand determinant for superabsorbent polymers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates road traffic injuries to become 7th leading cause of mortality worldwide by 2030-end.
Superabsorbent wound dressings have gained paramount importance in the wound care on the coattails of its extremely absorbent and unique core for exudate management. These dressings are deemed highly effective in soaking up wound exudate from venous ulcers, burns, surgical incisions, and chronic wounds. Chronic wounds illustrate an underestimated problem for healthcare systems worldwide.
Chronic wound prevails as a chronic issue, despite billions of spending by healthcare systems in wound care. However, routine clinical practice and research in wound management have meant that advancements in science are imminent for better understanding and addressing chronic wounds. 2-acrylamido-propane sulphonic acid (AMPS) and Polyaspartic acid (PASP)-based superabsorbent polymers, which are sensitive to pH and glucose conditions, are being exploited for chronic wound dressing.
Exuding wound care entails the need for dressing that quickly absorb exudates, and exert effective moisture management during the healing of wounds. Currently available commercial wound dressings are linked with a slew of limitations such as low-absorbency and high evaporation. In addition, non-occlusive nature of these wound dressings, and the requirement for secondary dressing for retaining a moist environment on the surface of wound, have further confined their performance and effectiveness.
Recognizing the concern, manufacturers have been inclining their preference toward spacer fabrics for use as absorbent medical products. Recent research efforts have given birth to superabsorbent spacer fabrics for application in exuding wound care. The three-layered structure of these fabrics deliver faster wetting speed and twice the absorbency compared to foam dressings. Additionally, air permeability of superabsorbent spacer fabrics is relatively higher, making them suitable for applications in exuding wound dressings.
Superabsorbent polymers have gained immense popularity owing to their pivotal role in the daily care products industry, such as diapers. Superabsorbent materials based on petroleum have sought significant use in the development of these products, however the upward trend of sustainability and green products are now driving efforts for re-invention. Scientists across the globe are therefore working on the production of new eco-friendly alternatives.
Past researches have depicted the ability of bio-based materials, mainly proteins, in absorbing aqueous solutions with effectiveness similar or even relatively higher than that of synthetic superabsorbent polymers. Additionally, advancements in the agricultural sector have been enabling the provision of essential protein-concentrated feedstock procured from side-streams apropos of the bio-refinery field.
Scientists have recognized the transmutation procedures of protein structures and interactions that are necessary to promote water-uptake in the protein-based superabsorbent polymers. The insights aggregated are being leveraged for developing suitable alternatives to their unsustainable petroleum-based counterparts, which in turn is likely to create new avenues for manufacturers in the upcoming years.