Our skin is a protective barrier to bacterial infection, but damage to the skin allows bacteria to enter. Normally, our immune system kills the bacteria and allows wounds to heal. However, certain diseases can overload the immune system and lead to heavy infection. Antibiotics are commonly used to treat heavy bacterial infection, but bacteria can develop drug resistance after too much exposure. A team at the University of Michigan developed nanofibers that can kill drug-resistant bacteria and enhance healing and skin regeneration.
The nanofibers are soft materials consisting of two parts. The first component kills bacteria by damaging their surface structures and disrupting their normal activities. The second component has elastic properties mimicking human skin, forming a skin-like patch to cover the wounds and provide a suitable environment for wound healing. In addition, these nanofibers are biodegradable, meaning that they can be naturally absorbed by the skin during treatment. To demonstrate the wound-healing capabilities of the nanofibers, mice with wounds infected by drug-resistant bacteria were treated with either the nanofibers or a commercial wound dressing product. The nanofibers showed the best healing ability, including fast removal of bacterial infection, significantly decreased wound size, and decreased wound-closure time compared to the commercial dressing.
Although this study showed that the nanofibers can enhance healing, they have only been tested on small wounds (7 mm diameter or less) in mice. Additionally, tests have only looked at how the nanofibers accelerate the natural healing processes in these smaller wounds. Future studies should investigate whether the nanofibers can treat non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers, which commonly result in amputations.
Managing Correspondent: Anqi Zhang
Original journal article: Biomimetic Elastomeric Polypeptide-Based Nanofibrous Matrix for Overcoming Multidrug-Resistant Bacteria and Enhancing Full-Thickness Wound Healing/Skin Regeneration. ACS Nano.
Image Credit: Waking Times
Related SITN Articles: Fish skin “bandages” rapidly heal burned bears and a mountain lion