Posted: December 15, 2006

Nanotechnology bandage speeds up healing

(Nanowerk News) The first clinical trials of a medical bandage that heals wounds faster concludes this month, bringing two University of Akron researchers closer to commercializing a product years in the making.
Professors Daniel Smith and Darrell Reneker used electricity to spin ultrafine polymer fibers while infusing them with chemicals that open a wound to oxygen.
The nanofiber bandage is particularly helpful for diabetics because the dressing releases nitric oxide gas, a natural chemical diabetics don't produce enough of, but one that is crucial for body repair.
As a bonus, the electrospun fibers are inexpensive, lightweight and elastic, and conform to any wound without sticking, he said.
The first human trials are winding up in Colombia. The South American country was chosen because it was easier to find people suffering parasitic lesions, a challenging wound that will highlight the bandage's strengths.
Smith and Reneker hope the results of those trials will win them FDA approval for clinical trials in the United States.
The university has found a Minnesota firm to make the bandages, but is encouraging the company to build the plant here.
The company, which Smith didn't want to identify yet, has a reputation for awarding plants to the areas where the technology is developed. He predicted the bandages will be ready for production by 2008 "at the latest."
"The company that makes these dressings will be making tens of millions of them, and that will require a lot of blue-collar workers," Smith said. "And there's a good chance that work will be here."
The university is working on other "not-so-sexy" nanofiber products, Smith said, and it's possible one factory could produce all of them.
The UA effort won a 2006 Innovation Award from NorTech, an economic development organization dedicated to spurring invention in Northeast Ohio.
Source: Akron Beacon Journal (Paula Schleis)