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May 06, 2010

Faster Wound Healing with Lasers and Nanotech

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Wired Mag Danger Room -the Air Force is funding scientists who are using nano-technology and lasers to seal up wounds at a molecular level. The US Military is funding many potential disruptive improvements to wound healing and treatment.

* human trials have started for spray on skin.
On one patient, a patch of spray-on skin the size of a postage stamp grew to repair an entire arm. The military has identified 40 troops for future trials, and 40 more civilians have been picked, as well.

* fat tissue and fat stem cells are being used to reconstruct damaged faces; the first of Rubin’s 20 trial patients underwent the procedure in April 2010
* one soldier has regrown most of a blown-apart quadriceps, thanks to a biologic scaffold developed at the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM)
* A little more than a year ago, doctors here gave a soldier a transplanted hand from a cadaver

Nanotech Wound Closure

The nanotech wound closure process would replace the sutures and staples traditionally used to repair wounded skin. Instead of being sealed up with a needle and thread, a patient’s wound would be coated in a dye, then exposed to green light for 2-3 minutes. The dye absorbs the light and catalyzes molecular bonds between the tissue’s collagen. The bonds instantly create a seal that’s watertight, which prevents inflammation or risk of infection, and speeds up the formation of scar tissue. The process uses a hand-held laser device that’s about a foot long and a few inches wide.

Penetrating eye wounds, like shrapnel injuries, could also benefit from a patch version of the treatment. A biological membrane stained with dye would be applied over the eye, and quickly sealed using the laser until a soldier could undergo more intensive surgery.

Next up, the researchers want to try out the procedure in more invasive surgeries and conduct more extensive testing on people, in hopes of fast-tracking war-zone use. They’ve applied for funding to conduct human trials on nerve repair. Superficial wound healing is impressive, but a continuous molecular seal of a nerve or in a corneal implant would be a profound leap.

Advantages over sutures and staples for tissue repair.
* PTB does not stimulate inflammation or cause additional damage to tissue, thus reducing fibrosis and scarring.
* Very small structures that require time-consuming microsurgery can be rapidly joined with less damage using PTB.
* Soft, delicate, difficult-to-suture tissues can be readily joined with PTB
* An immediate, water-tight seal is formed.

Photochemical crosslinking of proteins also has significant advantages over chemical crosslinking for bioengineered tissues.
* Degree of crosslinking can be controlled by amount of light delivered
* Crosslinking stops when light is turned off
* Non-toxic for cells within the gel

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