Researchers at Swinburne University of Technology are developing innovative nanofiber meshes that might draw bacteria out of wounds and speed up the healing process.
The research is the focus of Swinburne PhD candidate Martina Abrigo, who received the university’s Chancellor’s Research Scholarship to undertake this work.
Using a technique called electrospinning — in which polymer filaments 100 times thinner than a human hair are squeezed out of an electrified nozzle — Abrigo and her colleagues have made nanofiber meshes that can draw bacteria from a wound.
In the first phase of research polymer nanofibers were placed over the top of films of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium involved in chronic wound infection. The researchers found the bacteria quickly attached to the fibers.
When the fibers were smaller than the individual bacteria, fewer cells attached and those that did attach died as they attempted to wrap around the fiber.
In the second phase, the tiny nanofibers were coated with different compounds and tested on the bacteria Escherichia coli, also commonly found in chronic wounds.
The researchers found these bacteria rapidly transferred onto fibers coated with allylamine, independent of the fiber size, but did not attach to fibers coated with acrylic acid.
In the third phase of research, the nanofiber meshes have been tested on tissue-engineered skin models in a partnership with researchers at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. The results of this research are yet to be published, but indicate that similar effects could be seen in living tissue.
“For most people, wounds heal quickly. But for some people, the repair process gets stuck and so wounds take much longer to heal. This makes them vulnerable to infection,” Abrigo says.
“We hope this work will lead to smart wound dressings that could prevent infections. Doctors could put a nanomesh dressing on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of the germs.”
Release Date: August 21, 2015
Source: Swinburne University of Technology