Skin is an important part of the body with remarkable ability to heal itself. However, in few cases, wound takes more time to heal or doesn’t heal at all, leading to increased risk of infection, scarring, and chronic pain.
Recently, scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States have created a self-powered E-bandage that produces an electric field over an injury, allowing faster healing of skin wounds in rat models.
The new type of bandage has been reported in the journal ACS Nano. Over the years, doctors have been trying different approaches to help heal chronic wounds such as venous ulcers, diabetic foot ulcers, and non-healing surgical wounds. Bandaging, dressing, oxygen exposure, growth-factor therapy are some of the common methods used to heal skin wounds, but they generally show limited effectiveness.
As early as 1960s, researchers had discovered that electrical stimulation could aid in healing of skin wounds, but its application had many limitations including large equipment for generating the electric field which would require patient hospitalization.
Researcher Weibo Cai along with Xudong Wang and their colleagues wanted to develop a self-powered E-bandage which is flexible and enables the conversion of skin movements into therapeutic electric field.
To power the electric bandage (e-bandage), the team created a wearable nanogenerator by overlapping thin sheets of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), copper foil, and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). The nanogenerator could convert skin movements that happens while breathing or during normal activity into small electrical pulses.
Two working electrodes were placed at the two ends of the skin wounds in which the current passed through to generate a weak electric field. The researchers tested the e-bandage by placing it over wounds on the rat’s back. It was found that the wounds covered by the new device closed in 3 days, while a normal control bandage without electric field would generally take 12 days.
According to the researchers, faster healing of wound is due to better migration of fibroblast, proliferation, and differentiation stimulated by the electric field.
The recent work was funded by National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering.