CHICAGO, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Researchers at Northwestern University (NU) have developed a regenerative bandage that can quickly heals the open wounds of diabetic patients without using drugs.
The secret behind the regenerative bandage is laminin, a protein found in most of the body's tissues including the skin. The researchers identified a segment of laminin called A5G81 that is critical for the wound-healing process.
They incorporated A5G81 into an antioxidant hydrogel bandage that it previously developed in the laboratory. The bandage's antioxidant nature counters inflammation. And the hydrogel is thermally responsive: it is a liquid when applied to the wound bed, then rapidly solidifies into a gel when exposed to body temperature. This phase change allows it to conform to the exact shape of the wound, a property that helps it out-perform other bandages on the market.
"Wounds have irregular shapes and depths. Our liquid can fill any shape and then stay in place," said Guillermo Ameer, who led the study at the university.
So far, the researchers have not noticed any adverse side effects in animal models.
As the materials used in the bandage can be easily synthesized in the laboratory, it will be easy to produce and keep the manufacturing costs low. In addition, the bandage can be rinsed off with cool saline, leaving the regenerating tissue remaining undisturbed.
The bandage may face fewer regulatory hurdles when moving to the market, as it leverages the body's own healing power without releasing drugs or biologics.
Although the bandage is specifically developed for diabetes applications, it can also be used to heal all types of open wounds.
In the next step, NU researchers will continue to investigate the bandage in a larger pre-clinical model.
The study was published June 11, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.