If you’ve ever had a cut or burn turn into a scar, you’re probably aware that scar tissue is significantly different from the tissue it replaces. Indeed, scars on the skin are not elastic and are also more sensitive to ultraviolet radiation. The sweat glands and hair follicles that previously existed in the scarring area do not get restored.

This may be a minor inconvenience for most of us -- but for victims of severe burns, it’s anything but. That’s why a new therapeutic material based on nanofibers is an exciting development for regenerative medicine. Presented by a group of scientists from MISIS, the National University of Science and Technology in Moscow, the material is made with a polyester called polycaprolactone (PCL). PCL is more commonly used to make specialty polyurethanes. By modifying it with a thin-film antibacterial composition and plasma components of human blood, the scientists used it to make biodegradable, "living" bandages.

These bandages accelerate the growth of tissue cells, contributing to the normal regeneration of damaged tissues and preventing the formation of scars – the two main goals of regenerative medicine, particularly burn therapy.

This elegant material solution was proposed by researchers from MISIS’ Inorganic Nanomaterials Laboratory, led by senior researcher Anton Manakhov, Ph.D. The addition of the blood plasma proteins, as well as the antibacterial effect created by the introduction of silver nanoparticles or joining antibiotics, provides unique healing properties. Significant healing process acceleration, successful regeneration of normal skin-covering tissue and the prevention of scarring on the site of burnt or damaged skin have all been observed as a result of applying the bandages to an injured area. The "living" bandages do not get removed or changed during treatment, to avoid causing additional pain to the patient. After a certain period of time, the biodegradable fiber simply dissolves without any side effects.

The research team has already conducted a series of pre-clinical trials jointly with the Research Institute of Experimental and Clinical Medicine (RIECM) in Novosibirsk, Russia. In vitro results have shown an acceleration of the regeneration process at twice the normal rate. The team expects to get results of in vivo drug testing in the near future.