Bacteria Bandage: Prototype Made Of Innovative Nanofibers Cleans Wounds, Prevents Infection

bandage
A prototype bandage created from electrospun materials can suck bacteria out of wounds and so prevent infection. Mike Willis, CC by 2.0

Electrospinning is a way to generate ultrathin fibers from a variety of materials, including polymers and ceramics. Naturally, anytime scientists develop some new technology, they begin to excitedly search for groundbreaking ways to use it. And so it is with electrospun materials: a team of researchers at Swinburne University of Technology have created a prototype bandage from the innovative microfiber that can prevent infections in chronic wounds. Essentially, the bandage is able to draw bacteria out of the wound — suck it out — which disrupts the germ's ability to proliferate.

Although the technology is still under development, these innovative nanofiber meshes have proved effective in experiments with Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Staphylococcus aureus, three forms of bacteria which commonly cause wound infections.

Smart Band-Aids?

The researchers began their experiments by forming material for a bandage using electrospinning techniques. Electrospinning creates filaments 100 times thinner than a human hair by squeezing polymer out of an electrified nozzle. Next, they began to test the bandage material, not on a human wound, but in experiments devised in the lab. For instance, placing the electrospun material over films of S. aureus, the researchers observed bacteria becoming attached to individual polymer nanofibers. However, the thickness of each fiber mattered. When the fibers were smaller than an individual bacteria cell, the bacteria could not adhere, instead the individual cells attempted to wrap around each fiber.

So, the researchers coated the tiny nanofibers with test compounds and tried the bandage on E. coli. Here, the researchers discovered the bacteria rapidly transferred onto fibers coated with allylamine, no matter the size of each fiber. Surprisingly, the bacteria would not attach to fibers coated with acrylic acid. In another experiment, the nanofiber meshes were tested on skin models with bioengineered tissues.

Ultimately, the researchers hope their work will lead to smart dressings, where doctors will place a nanomesh bandage on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of any germs.

To hear Dr. Sally McArthur, lead author of the study, talk more about her work, watch this YouTube video, produced at Swinburne University:

Source: Abrigo M, Kingshott P, McArthur SL. Bacterial response to different surface chemistries fabricated by plasma polymerization on electrospun nanofibers. Biointerphases. 2015.

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