Bandage for fast healing inspired by fetal skin developed by Harvard, McGill scientists

The bandage was far more effective than traditional bandages in healing skin wounds in pigs and mice


Scientists at Harvard University have created a novel kind of wound dressing that can aid in healing a variety of different wounds. The gel-based, heat-activated bandage, inspired by the skin of a growing human embryo while it is still in the womb.

Fetal skin, as its called, can regenerate itself completely when injured, and do so with little to no scarring. Researchers know that there are significant differences in the components and repair mechanisms in wounds of adults and fetuses. But despite a lot of research into the mechanism of scarless fetal wound healing, the exact process remains largely unknown.

Bandage for fast healing inspired by fetal skin developed by Harvard, McGill scientists

A tough, heat-sensitive gel adhesive bandage for quicker healing. Image: McGill

It is also known that cells that make up a growing embryo produce proteins and fibers that close up quickly and tightly, contract the skin around a wound almost instantly. Adult skin cells can still do this to an extent, but nowhere to the same degree.  A team of researchers, which includes scientists from Harvard University and McGill University in Canada, claims to have engineered a bandage that can persuade the skin to its younger self, in the context of healing, at least.

The bandage is made out of "tough adhesive hydrogels that combine high stretchability, toughness, tissue adhesion, and antimicrobial function". To top it off, the material also activated when exposed to heat from the skin. The adhesive is a lot stickier than a conventional wound-dressing, and also contains silver nanoparticles, and antimicrobial properties to further boost healing.

A tough, heat-sensitive gel adhesive bandage for quicker healing. Image: McGill/Harvard

A tough, heat-sensitive gel adhesive bandage for quicker healing. Image: McGill/Harvard

The bandage was far more effective than traditional bandages in healing skin wounds in pigs and mice. The study also suggests, using computer simulations and medical tests, that it would give wound healing in humans a similar boost.

The team's research and findings are published in Science Advances.

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