Honors Program

University Honors

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Andrew Clark

Thesis Professor Department

Allied Health Sciences

Thesis Reader(s)

Charles Collins, Michelle Johnson


Neutrophils and cytokines present during an inflammatory response produce oxidants, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) or reactive nitrogen species (RNS). These oxidants act as free radicals, a highly reactive species that steal electrons from nearby molecules to satisfy their valence electron needs. The removal of electrons by free radicals produces damage within the healthy cells of tissue. Antioxidants can be used to reduce this oxidative stress and reestablish the necessary environment for wound healing by donating electrons to the free radicals, sparing the damaging effects oxidation causes to other molecules. The standard procedure for administering supplemental antioxidants is through enteral delivery. However, the inflammation and vascular damage experienced with a burn wound produces a notable decrease in the blood profusion to the damaged tissues. In contrast, this research focuses on a topical antioxidant treatment applied directly to the surface of the wound. By applying the gel topically, a higher concentration of antioxidants will be able to permeate the damaged tissue and quench enough free radicals to provide a therapeutic effect. Additionally, the gel developed by this research is comprised of a large percentage of Vitamin E-TPGS. This is a product capable of stabilizing moisture at the wound site; drawing fluid from the moist center and redistributing it to the drier perimeters of the wound. It is hypothesized the need for surgical debridement may decrease as a result of use of this topical application. Antioxidants often referred to in literature discussing nutrition and wound care include the following: Vitamin E, α-Lipoic Acid, Vitamin C, Grape Seed Extract, Coenzyme Q10, Glutathione, and Lutein. These antioxidants were incorporated into a gel formula, using a factorial method, based on their antioxidant potential as evidenced by the existing literature. In order to identify the most effective combination of these antioxidants, one-, two-, three-, four-, and five-component antioxidant gels representing every combination of the test antioxidants were produced. This resulted in a compilation of 35 gels for comparison. Each gel was tested on the basis of viscosity, pH, and antioxidant capacity. Antioxidant capacity was determined using the Ferric Reducing Antioxidant Plasma (FRAP) Assay, a spectrophotometric evaluation. A three-antioxidant gel composed of α-Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10, and Mixed Tocopherols (with and without micronized silver) was chosen as the final formulation. The storage stability of the final formulation was then evaluated once per week (over a total of 7 weeks) by measuring changes in pH, viscosity, and FRAP assay. In collaboration with Dr. Joseph Molnar at Wake Forest School of Medicine, an animal model trial will be conducted in the Spring Semester 2013 to determine the viability of the gel in comparison to a negative control and silver sulfadiazine, the current standard treatment protocol.

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


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