The ability of geckos to scale vertical surfaces comes from the special topography of their feet: nano-size hairs gives their feet an adhesive property. Robert Langer, Jeffrey M. Karp and their colleagues at MIT created a gecko-inspired bandage, covered with synthetic versions of these hairs. The bandage can stick to wet surfaces—like the heart itself—and it biodegrades over time, meaning that surgeons can use it to help repair internal injuries.
The family of QuikClot products make use of kaolin clay, a natural blood-clotter. The tiny particles of aluminosilicate contained in the clay have been known for decades to trigger the body's clotting cascade. Bandages coated with these particles, made by Z-Medica Corporation, have already been used successfully on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan as well by law-enforcement and disaster-preparedness teams in the U.S. The newest product in the family, QuikClot Emergency Dressing, is designed to be used in hospitals and for everyday injuries.
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have created a superfine, biodegradable bandage that acts as a skin farm over the wound. Doctors take a biopsy of patients' skin cells, which are attached to the scaffold before the dressing is applied over a wound. The skin cells multiply and grow over the scaffold, which eventually dissolves and leaves the patient's own cells in its stead.
- Cut won't heal? Electrocute it.
- Research has shown that the skin's own microcurrents play an important role in wound healing. Clinical trials have now shown that a bandage that distributes mild electrical current across the surface of a wound significantly speeds healing—even for wounds that have proved resistant to other treatments. The surface of the bandage, a product of biotechnology company Vomaris, is covered in microbatteries which are inert when dry. Wetting the bandage activates the circuit, and small currents are applied over the surface of the wound.
University of Delaware researchers Joel Schneider and Darrin Pochan have patented a novel hydrogel composed of self-assembling peptides; when the gel is injected into a wound, it becomes rigid. But because it remains porous, the researchers hope it will be able to deliver drugs or regenerative cells into a wound. (Recent research from their labs reveals that living cells can, indeed, be encapsulated in this gel and successfully delivered into a wound.) The gels also have antimicrobial properties.