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For Healing Injuries, A New Wound Dressing Design Feels Like Embryonic Skin

The latest innovation in wound dressings does more than maintain moisture and prevent infection, like traditional cotton and gauze treatments.

The latest innovation in wound dressings does more than maintain moisture and prevent infection, as traditional cotton wool and gauze treatments do. According to a new study published in Science Advances, a new bandage can accelerate healing. It contracts when it reaches skin temperature, which draws the wound’s edges together. The authors said the inspiration for the project was the efficiency with which embryos’ wounds heal.

“Embryonic wound healing, which provides perfect regeneration of fetal skin, can inspire new strategies for wound dressing design,” they wrote. “Embryonic wound healing involves the formation of actin cables at the leading edge of the cells encompassing the wound that contract and apply force to draw the wound edges together in a purse-string-like manner.” A smart jello-like bandage can adhere firmly to the skin and shrink the wound rapidly in response to the skin temperature. The authors continued: “In contrast, the postnatal skin of the adult human exhibits substantially less contraction. Inspired by the contraction ability of embryonic wounds, we propose a new design of wound dressings, called active adhesive dressings (AADs), to exert contractile forces sufficient to promote active wound closure.”

To prepare the dressings, researchers employed a common thermo-responsive polymer. When placed on a wound, the polymer in the dressing contracts in response to body heat without requiring external stimulation, such as UV light. The dressings adhere to the skin with the help of chitosan, a sugar obtained from the exoskeletons of shellfish. In addition, silver nanoparticles, used in many wound-care products, were incorporated into the dressings to provide a hydrogel antimicrobial function.

Bioinspired adhesive dressings are presented to shrink at skin temperature, contract the wound, and promote wound healing. The researchers noted that the dressings, which combine high stretchability, toughness, tissue adhesion, and infection prevention, are 17 times stronger than a Band-Aid. They add that the dressings could have broad uses in treating internal wounds in the intestines, liver, and lungs. Moreover, the dressings don’t incur production costs or prompt the side effects of recent, similar attempts.

The research could pave the way for developing more wound dressings with powerful adhesion that respond to stimuli.

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