Adhesive bandage inspired by fetus skin heals wounds

Bandages and various increasingly sophisticated dressings are created by researchers and the sector certainly does not seem to slow down. A new approach was developed by researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University who were inspired by fetal skin to develop a new bandage based on a thermosensitive hydrogel, as well as adhesive and antimicrobial, which closes “the wounds significantly faster than other methods.”

The new bandage can be used for skin lesions but also for chronic wounds such as diabetic ulcers and bedsores. It can also be used to deliver under-skin drugs, as David Mooney, one of the researchers involved in the project, says. The researchers were inspired by the skin of fetuses because the skin of the latter has greater efficiency in wound healing, which usually occurs without the formation of scar tissue.

The skin of fetuses uses embryonic cells that produce fibers made from protein actin that contract to make the two edges of the wound stick together. Fetal skin cells then lose this ability when the fetus develops beyond a certain age. The researchers, therefore, wanted to imitate these contractile forces that close the wounds of embryonic skin by developing special adhesive hydrogels with a heat-resistant polymer called PNIPAm.

This material is water repellent and can shrink to around 90°F. When exposed to body heat, this hydrogel-based material contracts and allows wound healing thanks to incorporated silver nanoparticles that provide antimicrobial protection. The researchers have already tested this bandage on pigs and the same showed an adhesive force several times greater than that of a plaster or a classic bandage, which in itself helped prevent the growth of bacteria.

They then performed other tests on mice and with these, they discovered that this bandage reduced the size of the wound region by about 45% compared to other treatments with microgel, chitosan, gelatin and other types of hydrogels.