Researchers at Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital engineered a new material for use in accelerating wound healing, building replacement tissues, and growing new blood vessels.
The photo-crosslinkable elastin-like polypeptide-based (ELP) hydrogel is activated using ultraviolet light, biocompatible and has characteristics similar to many soft tissues within the human body.
The mechanical properties and swelling of the final material can be controlled ahead of time by changing the concentration of the ingredients, potentially making it viable for use in widely differing applications.
The researchers showed that the material is non-toxic and will eventually be consumed by the body. They tested it on rats with wounds and showed that the material can be infused with cells to promote tissue growth and work as a bandage to block bleeding.
They also mixed in silica nanoparticles, which are known to promote wound healing, into the material and noted a shorter healing time than when the nanoparticles were used on their own.