How can sugar be used to treat burns?

The University of Birmingham hosted its second Life Sciences in Six event at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre on Monday 27 November 2017, in which six speakers spoke for six minutes each about the vital research they undertake at the University.

Compered by Michele Paduano, BBC Midlands Today’s Health Correspondent, the event attracted around 175 attendees and an abundance of positive feedback.

Professor Liam Grover, Professor in Biomaterials Science and Director of the Healthcare Technologies Institute asked how can sugar be used to treat burns?

We often think of sugar as evil – it rots our teeth and causes obesity. But what if we could use it as a treatment for burns?

Liam’s presentation detailed all the very effective ways that have been found to use sugar to treat burns. Mixed with water, larger joined up sugar molecules can create a solid dressing that is cooling and perfect for dressing burns.

 Life Sciences in Six - Professor Liam Grover

Sugar has many uses in Liam’s research. They have found it to be useful in the treatment of diabetes as the materials made from sugar are very effective at entrapping and protecting harvested pancreatic islets, which are used to restore function in diabetics.

The team have also created an eye drop out of a sugar solution that has been proven to effectively treat scarring, returning the scarred eyeball almost to normal levels after it is applied.

This eye drop has gone on to win prizes and is now packaged with hopes to move to clinic late next year. This could revolutionise how corneal burns are treated.

The Life Science in Six event is a great forum to hear about lots of important research from around the University in one place – as pointed out by Michele Paduano, research ‘that is important to you locally, us nationally and everyone internationally’.

  • Liam Grover is a Professor in Biomaterials Science and has been at the University of Birmingham since 2006. Prior to this time at the University, he was a Skeletal Health Scholar at McGill University, Montreal. His group focuses on the application of materials science and chemical engineering to the design of novel technologies for the regeneration of tissues. He is also interested in the fundamental science behind the mechanical performance of both ceramics and soft solids and how they may be influenced by physiological conditions.
  • Birmingham researchers at the Healthcare Technologies Institute are striving to develop new sensor technologies, and treatments that encourage better tissue healing and rehabilitation tools. These technologies will develop more effective patient treatment and recovery, will be cost-effective to use, and will ensure a more comfortable and better quality of life for all.