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Nanofiber bandages could safely seal your next wound

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Over-the-counter liquid bandages are great for sealing up minor cuts and scrapes, but sutures are still required to close most surgical incisions and deeper wounds. A group of scientists at the University of Maryland, however, have devised a way to apply a layer of 370 nanometer-wide biodegradable fibers to close and protect wounds using a standard airbrush machine.

"Using an airbrush to deposit biomaterials directly onto tissue is quite enticing."

Nanofiber bandages have long been an obsession for many researchers, but traditional methods of applying them using "electrospinning" would damage skin cells. The airbrush method goes on clean, since the acetone required to make the polymer nanofiber sprayable evaporates before hitting your skin, Chemical and Engineering News reports. Tests sealing diaphragm hernias, surgical incisions in the lung and intestine, and the liver of a pig have been successful, with the applied nanofiber decaying to nothing in 42 days.

"Using an airbrush to deposit biomaterials directly onto tissue is quite enticing and has potential in many areas of medicine," bioengineer Jeffrey M. Karp told Chemical and Engineering News. The University of Maryland's prototypes are currently going through safety studies, but could soon enter surgical trials in laboratory animals.