Bandages have been made from fibers with antibiotic properties, but researchers at NC State are going even further to develop fibers that when woven into bandages could deliver drugs that promote healing and tissue regeneration. Dr. Elizabeth Loboa, Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering & Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC), has been working with a team including polymer scientist Dr. Benham Pourdeyhimi to develop these innovative fibers.
“What we’ve created is a technology that makes hollow porous core sheath nano fibers” describes Loboa. “What we’re trying to create is what you can think of as a programmable bandage essentially for a patient specific traumatic wound.” In Loboa’s example, a combat fighter with a wound that needed treatment would require an antibacterial, antimicrobial outer surface to prevent contamination, and taking it a step further, could benefit from the release compounds that will control pain and inflammation, and also fibers capable of controlling tissue engineering regenerative medicine.
Loboa explains that in the lab, the focus is mostly focus on muscular skeletal tissue. By taking a little of a patient’s fat, stem cells can be obtained, and by manipulating the scaffold, the stem cells can differentiate into the type of cells needed to heal the wound. “So, basically what we can do is change the stiffness of what you’re actually growing the cells on to help enhance taking these stem cells into different types,” says Loboa. “It’s a multi-layer scaffold that because of the fiber’s diffusional properties can deliver all of these different compounds, and hopefully regenerate tissue and stop infection simultaneously.”
I find this truly amazing. And to think, I was impressed that Scooby Doo and Lighting McQueen could be realistically portrayed on the small surfaces of bandages…