Researchers from the UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have developed an injectable hydrogel that helps skin wounds heal more quickly.
The material creates an instant scaffold that allows new tissue to latch on and grow within the cavities formed between linked spheres of gel.
Doctors treating skin wounds try to keep the area moist because dry wounds heal much more slowly than wet ones. They often use topically applied hydrogel dressings or films, to seal over or cap the wound and provide moisture. In other cases, ointments are used to fill in the wound. However, none of these materials provide an optimal scaffold to allow new tissue to grow as they degrade. As a result, the new tissue growth is relatively slow and fragile.
"Achieving a biomaterial that promotes rapid regeneration while maintaining structural support has been a holy grail in the field of tissue engineering. Our team has achieved this in an injectable form by combining tailored material chemistry and microfluidic fabrication of uniform spherical building blocks, each about the width of a human hair," said Dino Di Carlo, co-principal investigators and a professor of bioengineering.
"Our technology is beautifully simple, as it utilizes any available chemistry to generate tiny gels that can be assembled into a large unit, leaving behind a path for cellular infiltration," said Tatiana Segura, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering.
The research was published online today in the journal Nature Materials.