In a world of exciting biotechnology breakthroughs from nanobots delivering targeted medicine to treatments that are tailored to an individual’s particular genetics, there doesn’t seem much room for excitement when it comes to the plain old sticking plaster. The simple staple of a first-aid kit’s role has always been to simple keep a cut or graze clean and maybe help stem the very last drops of blood. But even the simplest tools no longer seem immune to being jazzed up and improved by the latest technology in the world.
A report recently published in science newswire ScienceDaily by the American Chemical Society announces a new sticking plaster that not only protects a cut while it heals but actually speeds up the healing process itself. The plaster, or ‘band-aid’ as our cousins across the pond call it, generates what is described as a ‘mild electrical stimulation’ to a wound. So far tested only on rats, the effect of the electrical current has been shown to significantly reduce the time needed for a cut, graze or more serious wound to heal.
The electrical pulse is produced by a ‘nanogenerator’ which is made from
“overlapping sheets of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), copper foil, and polyethylene terephthalate (PET)”.
Combined in this way the materials generate tiny amounts of electrical power from natural skin movements. The electricity is then channelled to two tiny electrodes placed on either side of the wound, producing a very weak electrical field over it. Over preliminary tests, that field has been demonstrated to speed up the healing process of a wound that would ordinarily take 12 days to heal to just three days.
The ‘e-bandages’ are described by Xudong Wang, a professor of materials science who has led the team that has developed the new technology, as comfortable to wear and almost as convenient to apply as a traditional sticking plaster. The next step in research and development is to test the effectiveness of the e-bandages on pigs whose skin is very similar to that of humans.
As well as super-charging the cut knees of kids who fallen off bikes, the e-bandages are considered to hold significant promise for those who suffer from ‘chronic wounds’ such as ulcers and non-healing surgical wounds.