A Wave of Innovation: Exploring Marine-Based Products In Wound Care

  • Danial ImseehBachelor of Medical Science in Psychology, undertaking MBChB - University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Michika MontaldoBachelor of Science - BS, Applied Medical Sciences,UCL, UK
  • Sofiya Star BSc - BS, Madical Science, The University of Edinburgh, UK


Wounds are a common and significant challenge in healthcare, impacting millions of lives worldwide.1 Whether caused by accidents, surgeries, or chronic conditions, effective wound care is essential for ensuring a swift and complication-free recovery. While traditional wound treatments have served us well, the search for advanced and sustainable solutions has led researchers and medical professionals to an unexpected source of inspiration: the vast and mysterious world of the ocean.2,3

The healing powers of the sea have been revered for centuries, from soothing saltwater baths to the therapeutic benefits of marine algae.2,3 However, in recent years, scientists have ventured beyond these age-old remedies, diving deep into the ocean's depths to discover an array of remarkable marine products that could advance wound care.

In this article, we embark on a journey to explore how marine products are transforming the landscape of wound healing. We will delve into the science behind these oceanic treasures and unravel their diverse applications. Join us as we ride the wave of innovation, where the ocean's bounty meets cutting-edge technology to usher in a new method of wound care.

The hidden treasures of the sea

Beneath the surface of the world's oceans lies a realm of uncharted potential. Beyond the captivating marine life and breathtaking coral reefs, the sea holds hidden treasures that have the power to heal. It's a world of marine polysaccharides, which are biocompatible substances derived from various oceanic sources, that are changing the landscape of wound care.2,3,4

Marine polysaccharides, such as chitosan and alginate, are natural biopolymers found in marine organisms like crustaceans and seaweed.2 Their unique properties make them ideal candidates for developing advanced wound dressings and therapies.2,3

These marine polysaccharides possess exceptional biocompatibility and biodegradability. They can also engage in a wide range of bioactivities, making them versatile assets in wound healing. From antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to their ability to promote tissue regeneration, these oceanic compounds are rewriting the rules of wound care.2,3,4

The science behind the sea’s healing properties 

To truly grasp the potential of marine polysaccharides in wound healing, it's essential to understand the science that makes them such valuable assets in medical research.

Biocompatibility and biodegradability

Marine polysaccharides possess a natural affinity for the human body. They are biocompatible, meaning they interact harmoniously with our tissues without causing harm or rejection. Furthermore, these compounds are biodegradable, breaking down over time into harmless byproducts, a crucial feature for sustainable wound care.2,4

Diverse bioactivities

Their diverse range of bioactivities sets marine polysaccharides apart. They excel in multiple aspects of wound management. These include antibacterial properties to ward off infections, anti-inflammatory effects to reduce swelling and discomfort, and pro-regenerative abilities that accelerate tissue repair.2,3,4

Promotion of angiogenesis

Angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels, is a pivotal process in wound healing. Marine polysaccharides have demonstrated a remarkable ability to stimulate angiogenesis, ensuring that wounds receive adequate blood supply for a quicker recovery.2

Scar prevention

Excessive collagen deposition during wound healing often leads to unfavourable scars. Marine polysaccharides, particularly chitosan and alginate, exhibit scar-inhibiting properties. They encourage orderly collagen formation, reducing the risk of noticeable scarring.2,3

Enhanced drug delivery

These oceanic compounds can be integrated into wound dressings to act as carriers for therapeutic agents. This feature enables precise and controlled drug delivery directly to the wound site, optimising treatment effectiveness.2,3

Innovative dressing forms

Marine polysaccharides can be crafted into various dressing forms, such as hydrogels, nanofibers, membranes, and sponges. Each form has unique advantages, ranging from excellent moisture retention to tailored drug release capabilities, ensuring a personalised approach to wound care.2,3

From ocean to operating room

Let's trace the path of marine polysaccharides from the depths of the sea to the operating rooms, where they are turning the tide in wound healing.

  1. Extraction and transformation: Marine polysaccharides are carefully harvested from marine sources and refined to meet medical standards. Scientists work to ensure their safety and effectiveness2,3,4
  2. Innovative dressings: These compounds take shape as various types of wound dressings. Hydrogels, nanofibers, membranes, and sponges harness the unique properties of marine polysaccharides for drug delivery, tissue regeneration, and infection prevention2,3,4
  3. Enhancement strategies: Researchers enhance the dressings with additives, modifications, and advanced techniques. This elevates properties like blood clotting, antibacterial action, and inflammation control2,3,4
  4. Clinical trials: Rigorous trials confirm the safety and effectiveness of these dressings in real-world settings, ensuring they meet the highest wound care standards2,3,4
  5. Versatile applications: Marine-based dressings suit a range of wounds, from surgical incisions to diabetic ulcers. They offer tailored solutions for diverse medical needs2,3,4
  6. Patient impact: Real-life stories reveal how marine polysaccharide dressings speed up wound healing, reduce pain, and minimise scarring, transforming patients' lives2,3,4

Clinical trials

The clinical trials involving marine-based wound dressings paint a promising picture of the future of wound care.

Safety and efficacy 

Researchers have meticulously examined the impact of marine-based dressings on various types of wounds. Their findings consistently reveal accelerated healing, reduced infection rates, and enhanced patient comfort.2,3,4

These trials also emphasise the safety of marine-derived dressings. Patients rarely experience adverse reactions, allergic responses, and complications.

Diabetic ulcer healing

In trials focused on diabetic foot ulcers, marine polysaccharide dressings have demonstrated their effectiveness in speeding up the healing process, reducing the risk of amputation, and improving patients' overall quality of life.2

Post-operative wound healing

After surgical procedures, patients reported less pain, faster recovery times, and better cosmetic outcomes when using marine-based dressings. This benefits the patients and may reduce the burden on healthcare systems.2,3,4

The future of wound healing

As mentioned previously, an array of marine-based products are used in wound care, with each product having its own set of impressive properties that differentiate them from one another.2 This section will explore some of these products:

Smart hydrogels

Smart hydrogels infused with marine polysaccharides can respond to your body’s needs during wound healing. They adjust their properties based on factors like pH, temperature, and the stage of wound healing, all on their own. These hydrogels offer targeted drug delivery, ensuring the proper treatment dose at the right time.2 

Nanofibrous mats

Ultra-thin, nanofiber dressings are becoming the gold standard for wound care. Marine polysaccharides create nanofiber mats that closely mimic the structure of our skin's extracellular matrix, the largest component of the skin. This promotes cell adhesion and proliferation, expediting the healing process.2

Mussel-inspired hydrogels

Borrowing from nature's engineering, mussel-inspired hydrogels exhibit remarkable wet adhesion and mechanical strength. With marine polysaccharides as a base, these hydrogels offer rapid hemostasis (cessation of bleeding) and tissue regeneration, making them ideal for wound healing.2

Injectable hydrogels

For hard-to-reach wounds, injectable hydrogels are a game-changer. They form precisely where the damage is, ensuring exact drug delivery and optimal wound coverage. Marine polysaccharide-based injectable hydrogels are now being explored for joint injuries and post-operative wound care.2,5

Microspheres and aerogels

Microspheres carrying marine-derived substances enable controlled drug release and targeted treatment. On the other hand, aerogels, with their ultra-lightweight yet robust structure, are perfect for wound care. They offer hemostatic, antibacterial, and growth-promoting properties with added patient comfort.2


Marine polysaccharides, like chitosan and alginate, push wound care forward, offering antibacterial defence, tissue regeneration, and solutions for inflammation and scarring. These marine-derived compounds offer hope to those with chronic wounds, surgical incisions, and injuries. 

The future of wound healing holds promise with smart hydrogels, nanofibrous mats, mussel-inspired hydrogels, microspheres, aerogels, and injectable formulations all being tailored to the needs of the patients. With ongoing research and collaborations between scientists, healthcare professionals, and the marine industry, we can anticipate a future where marine-based wound dressings are readily available and optimised for various clinical scenarios.


  1. Guest JF, Fuller GW, Vowden P. Cohort study evaluating the burden of wounds to the UK’s National Health Service in 2017/2018: update from 2012/2013. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2020 Dec 1 [cited 2023 Sep 11];10(12):e045253. Available from: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/10/12/e045253
  2. Shen S, Chen X, Shen Z, Chen H. Marine polysaccharides for wound dressings application: an overview. Pharmaceutics [Internet]. 2021 Oct 12 [cited 2023 Sep 11];13(10):1666. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8541487/
  3. Prelipcean AM, Iosageanu A, Gaspar-Pintiliescu A, Moldovan L, Craciunescu O, Negreanu-Pirjol T, et al. Marine and agro-industrial by-product valorization intended for topical formulations in wound healing applications. Materials (Basel) [Internet]. 2022 May 13 [cited 2023 Sep 11];15(10):3507. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9143632/
  4. Liu J, Zeng Q, Ke X, Yang Y, Hu G, Zhang X. Influence of chitosan-based dressing on prevention of synechia and wound healing after endoscopic sinus surgery: a meta-analysis. Am J Rhinol�Allergy [Internet]. 2017 Nov [cited 2023 Sep 11];31(6):401–5. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2500/ajra.2017.31.4469
  5. Alonso JM, Andrade del Olmo J, Perez Gonzalez R, Saez-Martinez V. Injectable hydrogels: from laboratory to industrialization. Polymers (Basel) [Internet]. 2021 Feb 22 [cited 2023 Sep 11];13(4):650. Available from:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7926321/ 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Danial Imseeh

Bachelor of Medical Science in Psychology, undertaking MBChB - University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Danial is undertaking a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, and also pursued an intercalated degree obtaining a Bachelor of Medical Science in Psychology. This unique combination lets him pay close attention to medical conditions and their psychological and emotional impact. This broadened his horizons to the scope of research and analysis in both medicine and psychology. Adding several years of clinical experience to this academic background, he developed a passion and ability to simplify complex medical conditions into easily understandable information.

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