Nanotechnology And Burn Victims

Each year, some 45,000 people are hospitalized with burns in the United States. Researchers in the College of Textiles at NC State are creating unconventional "textile" products, such as skin grafts, by harnessing the power of nanotechnology. Russell Gorga, assistant professor in Textile Engineering, Chemistry, and Science at North Carolina State, has been using nanofibers to build a synthetic copy of the body's connective tissue that surrounds and supports cells. The nanofiber skin grafts can be used to regrow the skin of burn or laceration victims. The skin graft provides a porous support structure where cells can attach and nutrients can flow into the cell while waste flows away.

The antibiotic properties of silver have made the metal a popular treatment for wounds and burns. Silver helps skin to heal by preventing infections. In recent years several companies have revolutionized wound care with silver-impregnated dressings that require fewer painful changings.

Another research team has modified using old model inkjet printers to develop a way to make sheets of human skin to be used on burn victims. The printer cartridges are filled with living cells. The printer sprays cell materials, rather than ink, onto a gauze material, creating a sheet of living tissue. The researchers hope that this "skin-printing" method will minimize rejections by the body. This could be a life-saving technology for the 20 percent of burn patients who have the most extensive burns.

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