BRADFORD researchers are working on a groundbreaking project recycling eggshells to help heal chronic wounds quicker.

Researchers from NIHR WoundTec HTC at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), in the grounds of Bradford Royal Infirmary, have joined forces with a Norwegian company to develop a new plaster-type dressing based on eggshell membranes which could be used to treat wounds including bedsores and those suffered by the elderly and diabetics.

Project Manager Hussein Dharma said: “The idea is based on an old Chinese remedy for healing wounds, which used the thin membrane coating around the eggshell as a dressing for wounds because it's known to have properties which can accelerate the healing process.

“This is a really exciting project because this new plaster has the potential to bring relief for people with a variety of wounds. It's expected to cost considerably less than current collagen-based wound healing products and the anticipated increase in healing rates is expected to save the NHS significant costs."

An estimated 2.2 million wounds are managed by the NHS annually at an estimated cost of £5 billion, about the same cost of managing obesity.

The new dressing uses waste eggshells from the egg cracking industry such as mayonnaise and cake-mix makers to make special plasters which look a bit like a blister film dressing. Around seven to eight eggs are enough to make a dressing which measures around 10cms square.

Ralf Schmidt, co-founder of the Norweigan company Biovotec said on average 600 million eggs a day are consumed and the shells just discarded.

He said his company was delighted to work with the researchers from WoundTec based at the Bradford research centre and revealed the first clinical trials of the dressing are planned for early 2017 with hopes to get a ‘CE mark’ for European market approval by 2018.

The research is being co-funded by the Horizon 2020 Programme of the European Union.

Bradford will be one of the trial sites as well as other centres around the country.