Drug delivery is a difficult task in the field of dermal therapeutics, particularly in the treatment of burns, wounds, and skin diseases. Conventional drug delivery mediums have some limitations, including poor retention on skin/wound, inconvenience in administration, and uncontrolled drug release profile. Hydrogels able to absorb large amount of water and give a spontaneous response to stimuli imposed on them are an attractive solution to overcome the limitations of conventional drug delivery media. The objective of this study is to explore a green synthesis method for the development of thermo-responsive cellulose hydrogel using cellulose extracted from oil palm empty fruit bunches (OPEFB). A cold method was employed to prepare thermo-responsive cellulose hydrogels by incorporating OPEFB-extracted cellulose and Pluronic F127 (PF127) polymer. The performance of the synthesized thermo-responsive cellulose hydrogels were evaluated in terms of their swelling ratio, percentage of degradation, and in-vitro silver sulfadiazine (SSD) drug release. H8 thermo-responsive cellulose hydrogel with 20 w/v% PF127 and 3 w/v% OPEFB extracted cellulose content was the best formulation, given its high storage modulus and complex viscosity (81 kPa and 9.6 kPa.s, respectively), high swelling ratio (4.22 ± 0.70), and low degradation rate (31.3 ± 5.9%), in addition to high t50%
value of 24 h in SSD in-vitro drug release to accomplish sustained drug release. The exploration of thermo-responsive cellulose hydrogel from OPEFB would promote cost-effective and sustainable drug delivery system with using abundantly available agricultural biomass.
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