Despite advances in treatment regimens and the best efforts of nurses and doctors, about 70% of all people with severe burns die from related infections. But a revolutionary new wound dressing developed at Tel Aviv University could cut that number dramatically.
Prof. Meital Zilberman of TAU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering has developed a new wound dressing based on fibers she engineered — fibers that can be loaded with drugs like antibiotics to speed up the healing process, and then dissolve when they’ve done their job. A study published in the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research – Applied Biomaterials demonstrates that, after only two days, this dressing can eradicate infection-causing bacteria.
The new dressing protects the wound until it is no longer needed, after which it melts away. “We’ve developed the first wound dressing that both releases antibiotic drugs and biodegrades in a controlled manner,” says Prof. Zilberman. “It solves current mechanical and physical limitations in wound-dressing techniques and gives physicians a new and more effective platform for treating burns and bedsores.”
Not as simple as it sounds
While the concept is simple, the technology is not. Skin, Prof. Zilberman explains, serves a number of vastly different purposes. “Wound dressings must maintain a certain level of moisture while acting as a shield,” she says. “Like skin, they must also enable fluids from the wound to leave the infected tissue at a certain rate. It can’t be too fast or too slow. If too fast, the wound will dry out and it won’t heal properly. If too slow, there’s a real risk of increased contamination.”
Prof. Zilberman’s new wound dressing, which does not yet have a formal name, is designed to mimic skin and the way it protects the body. It combines positive mechanical and physical properties with what medical researchers call “a desired release profile of antibiotics.”