A second skin

Nov 17, 2009
Composite drug-releasing fibers that can be used as dissolvable wound dressings. Credit: AFTAU

Despite advances in treatment regimens and the best efforts of nurses and doctors, about 70% of all people with severe burns die from related infections. But a revolutionary new wound dressing developed at Tel Aviv University could cut that number dramatically.

Prof. Meital Zilberman of TAU's Department of Biomedical Engineering has developed a new wound dressing based on fibers she engineered -- fibers that can be loaded with drugs like antibiotics to speed up the , and then dissolve when they've done their job. A study published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Applied demonstrates that, after only two days, this dressing can eradicate infection-causing bacteria.

The new dressing protects the wound until it is no longer needed, after which it melts away. "We've developed the first wound dressing that both releases antibiotic drugs and biodegrades in a controlled manner," says Prof. Zilberman. "It solves current mechanical and physical limitations in wound-dressing techniques and gives physicians a new and more effective platform for treating burns and bedsores."

Not as simple as it sounds

While the concept is simple, the technology is not. Skin, Prof. Zilberman explains, serves a number of vastly different purposes. "Wound dressings must maintain a certain level of moisture while acting as a shield," she says. "Like skin, they must also enable fluids from the wound to leave the infected tissue at a certain rate. It can't be too fast or too slow. If too fast, the wound will dry out and it won't heal properly. If too slow, there's a real risk of increased contamination."

Prof. Zilberman's new wound dressing, which does not yet have a formal name, is designed to mimic skin and the way it protects the body. It combines positive mechanical and physical properties with what medical researchers call "a desired release profile of antibiotics."

Slashing mortality statistics

Unlike oral antibiotics, locally-applied antibiotics can target and kill harmful bacteria before they enter the body to cause further infection, sepsis, or death. "People who suffer from large burns don't usually die from the condition itself. The fatal culprits are the secondary bacterial infections that invade the body through these vulnerable burned areas," says Prof. Zilberman.

The new TAU dressing inhibits bacterial growth and is biodegradable, which helps doctors avoid constant wound cleaning and redressing, allowing the body to do the work on its own. "When administered at the wound, a doctor can give relatively high but local doses of antibiotics, avoiding any toxicity issues that arise when the same amount of antibiotic passes through the body," explains Prof. Zilberman, who worked on this research with Jonathan Elsner, her PhD student.

Prof. Zilberman is now starting the early stages of clinical trials on animal models. So far, her wound dressing has passed physical and mechanical tests in vitro and in bacterial inhibition tests in the laboratory. She is also seeking a strategic partner to co-develop the research and take it to the commercial stage.

Source: Tel Aviv University (news : web)

Explore further: Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Artificial skin system can heal wounds

Dec 20, 2007

A new study in Artificial Organs tested the effects of a wound dressing created with hair follicular cells. The findings reveal that skin substitutes using living hair cells can increase wound healing.

Washing away painful wounds

Aug 26, 2009

More than six million people in the U.S. suffer from persistent wounds -- open sores that never seem to heal or, once apparently healed, return with a vengeance. The bedridden elderly and infirm are prone ...

Study uses bone marrow stem cells to regenerate skin

Jan 14, 2009

A new study suggests that adult bone marrow stem cells can be used in the construction of artificial skin. The findings mark an advancement in wound healing and may be used to pioneer a method of organ reconstruction. The ...

Recommended for you

Vermicompost leachate improves tomato seedling growth

11 hours ago

Worldwide, drought conditions, extreme temperatures, and high soil saline content all have negative effects on tomato crops. These natural processes reduce soil nutrient content and lifespan, result in reduced plant growth ...

Plant immunity comes at a price

13 hours ago

Plants are under permanent attack by a multitude of pathogens. To win the battle against fungi, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens, they have developed a complex and effective immune system. And just as ...

Evolution: The genetic connivances of digits and genitals

Nov 20, 2014

During the development of mammals, the growth and organization of digits are orchestrated by Hox genes, which are activated very early in precise regions of the embryo. These "architect genes" are themselves regulated by ...

Surrogate sushi: Japan biotech for bluefin tuna

Nov 20, 2014

Of all the overfished fish in the seas, luscious, fatty bluefin tuna are among the most threatened. Marine scientist Goro Yamazaki, who is known in this seaside community as "Young Mr. Fish," is working to ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.