Researchers at University of Illinois Urbana- Champaign have developed a new smart bandage, called the 'microvascular stamp' which promotes angiogenesis (growth of new vessels from pre-existing vessels) while guiding exactly where the vessels should go.
The 1cm bandage contains living cells, positioned in a defined pattern, that release growth factors around a wound and cause vessels to grow where intended. It is built of layers of a hydrogel made of polyethylene glycol (an FDA-approved polymer used in laxatives and pharmaceuticals) and methacrylic alginate (an edible, Jell-O-like material). The bandage is porous, allowing small molecules to leak through, and contains channels of various sizes to direct the flow of larger molecules, such as growth factors.
Co-researcher Rashid Bashir said, "There are many potential applications for the new bandage, from directing the growth of blood vessels around a blocked artery, to increasing the vascularization of tissues with poor blood flow. Enhancing the growth of new blood vessels in a coordinated pattern after surgery may also reduce recovery time and lessen the amount of scar tissue."