Magazine article Science News

Nanothread Mesh Could Lead to Novel Bandages. (Natural Healing)

Magazine article Science News

Nanothread Mesh Could Lead to Novel Bandages. (Natural Healing)

Article excerpt

By recasting clot-promoting protein fibers found in blood into a fine meshwork, researchers have devised a wound covering that may speed healing and never need removing.

Gary L. Bowlin and his coworkers have produced mats of the protein, called fibrinogen, containing fibers just 80 nanometers thick. That's comparable in thickness to natural fibrinogen fibers in people's blood, says Bowlin, a biomedical engineer at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.

Other researchers previously coated gauze bandages with fibrinogen or formed the protein into brittle, sponge-like materials (SN: 6/19/99, p. 396). In contrast, the new fibrinogen mats would become integral parts of a wound. Unlike standard gauze bandages, these strong, flexible mats actively promote blood clotting.

Bowlin and his coworkers created their mats from human or cow fibrinogen by modifying a process, called electrospinning, that's long been used in textile manufacturing. After dissolving the protein in a solution, the researchers applied an electric field that forced the fluid through a narrow nozzle toward a metal plate. While in the air, the fibrinogen threads dried and twisted, landing on their metal target like a delicate network of spaghetti. Increasing the protein concentration of the initial solution made the mats' threads thicker; decreasing the concentration made the threads thinner.

Bowlin and his collaborators describe the mat-making process and the mats' strength, flexibility, and nanoscopic structure in the Feb. …

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