Australian researchers are developing a new type of nanofibre mesh bandage that attracts bacteria, and will hopefully help to speed up the healing process.
The mesh has already been successfully tested on bacterial colonies and engineered skin models in the lab, and the results suggest that bacteria will choose to move out of a wound and onto the material. In other words, it may be able to help draw infections out of human tissue.
"For most people, wounds heal quickly. But for some people, the repair process gets stuck and so wounds take much longer to heal. This makes them vulnerable to infection," lead researcher Martina Abrigo, from Swinburne University of Technology, said in a press release.
"We hope this work will lead to smart wound dressings that could prevent infections. Doctors could put a nanomesh dressing on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of the germs."
The nanofibre mesh is created using a technique called electrospinning, in which polymer filaments 100 times thinner than a human hair are squeezed out of an electrified nozzle.
The resulting fibre is then coated in compound called allylamine, which Abrigo has found makes a range of different bacteria quickly attach to it.
So far, Abrigo and her team have tested the mesh over the top of films of Staphylococcus aureus, which is often involved in chronic wound infection, as well as E. coli, and showed that the bacteria quickly transferred onto the fibres.
The researchers have since tested the mesh on tissue-engineered skin models, and although the results have not yet been published, they suggest that the bandage also works on real tissue.
The results have been published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces and Biointerphases.
The next step will be to test out whether the bandages can have the same effect in real-life wounds, and to find out how much of a difference this has on healing time. If all goes to plan, the material could be incorporated into bandages, which could be a huge benefit to people living in remote areas, or those who have chronic medical conditions, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, severe burns, cancer or AIDS, who are at a higher risk of having their wounds become infected.
And it could help us all heal a little quicker and more painlessly, which is something we're pretty excited about.
Interested in the latest medical innovations? Find out more about the ground-breaking research happening at Swinburne.