Spray-On Polymer Mats Heal Wounds Fast

Researchers have discovered that they can spray polymer nanofibers directly onto living tissues using an airbrush purchasable at any hardware store. These biodegradable mats of sticky fibers can seal surgical incisions and help them to heal.

(From PLGA nanofibers sprayed onto gloved hand)

Current methods for making the mats—such as electrospinning, which involves electric current—would damage living cells if the mats were made in situ. To devise a way to create the mats directly on the tissue, Kofinas and colleagues adapted a commercial airbrush, a tool more commonly used to apply paint.

They tinkered with different formulations of a biodegradable polymer, poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or PLGA, to find one that would work in the airbrush. By choosing a particular molecular weight of PLGA and concentration of acetone as the solvent, they could control the diameter of the resulting fibers. They ended up producing mats with fiber diameters of about 370 nm.

The researchers showed that the mats could seal diaphragm hernias and cuts to the lung, intestine, and liver in a pig. The acetone appears to evaporate before the nanofibers get deposited, suggesting that the solvent won’t pose toxicity problems, according to the paper. Cells sprayed with the PLGA nanofibers show no change in health after 24 hours. In lab tests, the nanofiber mats degraded completely over a 42-day period.

The polymer nanofiber mats are currently being improved and studied for upcoming surgical trials in laboratory animals.

Science fiction fans have been nursing their cuts and scrapes ever since the 1960 novel Dr. Futurity, in which Philip K. Dick wrote about art-derm - spray-on skin that could be directly applied to wounds.

Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm; it sealed off the open wound, halted bleeding, and prohibited infection.
(Read more about art-derm)

From In Situ Deposition of PLGA Nanofibers via Solution Blow Spinning via Chemical & Engineering News.

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