Treatment of Coral Wounds by Combining an Antiseptic Bilayer Film and an Injectable Antioxidant Biopolymer.


Smart Materials, Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy. [Email]


Coral reefs are vital for the marine ecosystem and their potential disappearance can have unequivocal consequences on our environment. Aside from pollution-related threats (changes in water temperature, plastics, and acidity), corals can be injured by diseases, predators, humans and other invasive species. Diseases play an important role in this decline, but so far very few mitigation strategies have been proposed and developed to control this threat. In this work, we demonstrate that recently developed bi-layer human skin wound treatment patches containing antiseptics and natural antioxidants with controlled-release capacity can be adapted to treat scleractinian coral wounds effectively. A hydrophilic bilayer film based on polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and hyaluronic acid was used to cover the open wounds while delivering the antiseptics for rapid action. Afterwards, the hydrophilic bi-layer covered wound was sealed with an antioxidant and hydrophobic ε-caprolactone-p-coumaric acid copolymer by melt injection at low temperatures. Treated coral injuries were monitored both in aquaria system and in natural environment in Maldives for over 4 months to reduce the number of entry points for organisms that could lead to diseases. The corals well-tolerated both biomaterials as well as the antiseptics incorporated in these materials. The treatments displayed self-adhering properties, tuneable dissolution time, and biocompatibility and stimulated regeneration properties within the coral wound. As such, this work demonstrates that certain human skin wound treatment materials can be successfully adapted to the curing of coral wounds and delivery of specific drugs to slow down, reduce or even stop the spread of diseases in scleractinian corals as well as in all other benthic organisms affected by uncontrolled pathologies.

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