A core challenge in treating burn victims is the frequency of dressing changes which can be significantly painful. A new study has found a potential solution to this with a new dressing material that can improve the healing process and could be helpful for drug delivery in cancer treatments.
Researchers from the University of Waterloo have created a new type of wound dressing made of advanced polymers, according to the University’s press statement. “To treat burn victims, we can customise the shape using a 3D printer, secondly, the material has fine-tuned surface adhesion, which is a key feature,” said Dr Boxin Zhao, a professor at Waterloo's Department of Chemical Engineering.
Zhao and their team have made important developments in developing intelligent hydrogel materials that can be used as a reusable wound dressing. The material can easily adhere to the skin and be taken off. There is a delicate balance within the material to make the adhesion work.
To create the dressing, the researchers conducted a 3D scan of the patient's face and body parts to customise it according to the individual's needs. This ensures the dressing makes good contact with skin surfaces such as noses and fingers, making it ideal for creating personalised wound dressings for burn patients, according to the press statement. The study findings were published in the Journal of Colloids and Interfacial Science.
The material used to make these dressings includes a biopolymer derived from seaweed, a thermally responsive polymer, and cellulose nanocrystals. When chilled in the fridge, the dressing expands but shrinks to a smaller size at body temperature. This makes it easier and less painful to remove it. Notably, the wound dressing only adheres when applied at body temperature.
The material could also be used in cancer treatment. In the traditional chemotherapy treatment, patients may need to be in a clinic for hours. This dressing can bring relief as it can provide a constant drug release outside the clinic setting, addressing some of the challenges.
The researchers believe these smart dressings can also be used in the beauty and cosmetic industry. "Cosmetologists can utilize 3D scanning technology to analyse their clients' facial features and customise hydrogel masks infused with specific facial and skin regimen products. Additionally, this innovative approach can benefit plastic surgeons,” Zhao elaborated in the statement.