It has long been known that the application of electricity can help heal wounds. The new experimental ePatch bandage takes this approach and also improves the healing process by killing bacteria.
Developed by the Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation in Los Angeles, the ePatch incorporates electrodes made of silver nanowires mixed with an algae-derived hydrogel called alginate. The latter is already used in surgical dressings, as it is biocompatible and maintains an optimal humidity level.
By chemically modifying the alginate and adding calcium, the scientists were able to increase the function and stability of the silver nanowires. The resulting hydrogel was printed on a flexible silicone sheet, the surface of which was partially covered with a stencil.
When the model was removed, the remaining alginate formed the two electrodes, which were connected to an external power source. By varying the size and shape of the silicone sheets, electronic patches capable of covering and conforming to the contours of a wide variety of wounds could be created.
When the technology was tested on rats with external wounds, it was found that the electrical current delivered accelerated the rate of healing not only by causing skin and other granulation cells to migrate to the site, but by also inducing the formation of blood vessels and reducing inflammation. .
While the wounds in a group of untreated control rats took 20 days to heal, the ePatch-treated rats healed in just seven days.
In addition, thanks to the antibacterial properties of silver, infection was minimized. Additionally, when the ePatches were removed at the end of the healing process, the treated rats showed less scarring than the control group; this is likely due, at least in part, to the fact that the skin cells do not adhere to the silicone substrate, so they do not detach when the dressing is removed.
Through careful material selection and optimization of our gel formulation, we have been able to develop a multi-functional, easy-to-manufacture, and cost-effective e-Patch that will greatly facilitate and accelerate wound healing.
Dr. Han-Jun Kim, from the Terasaki Institute.
Going through www.sciencedirect.com (English text).
Going through terasaki.org