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Spray Fiber Process Designed for Wound Bandages

EStAD device drawing

EStAD device drawing (L.G. Huson and E.A. Kooistra-Manning, Montana Tech)

13 Nov. 2019. An engineering team created a portable device that in lab tests sprays bio-compatible fibers on simulated wound surfaces to promote healing. Researchers from Montana Technological University in Butte describe the device and process in yesterday’s issue of the Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B, published by American Institute of Physics.

A team led by Montana Tech mechanical engineering student Lane Huston is seeking to apply electrospinning, a technique that sprays electrically-charged polymer micro- and nano-scale fibers toward a surface, where the fibers form a mat-like structure. Electrospinning can also be used to create dressings and even engineered tissue to heal wounds. Most of today’s electrospinning systems, including those in health care, are large, table-top systems with high-voltage power supplies.

Huston and colleagues aim to develop a portable electrospinning device needing far less power than current systems, for use at the point of care in clinics. Their solution combines an electrospinning unit with electrodes and an air blower to propel the fibers on a target surface, but is powered by a battery enclosed in a portable, self-contained device, called an electrostatic and air driven or EStAD system. The system produces electrospun bandages with two types of polymer fibers used in biomedical applications — polyethylene oxide and cellulose diacetate — at a lower volume than table-top systems.

“In spray painting, pressurized gas forces direct particles toward a surface, creating a sort of deposited material,” says Huston in an American Institute of Physics statement. “Like spray painting, the EStAD device is used by directing its nozzle at the desired surface during operation, causing a fiber mat to be deposited onto that surface.”

The Montana Tech team tested the EStAD system with two applications. The researchers first used the system to create direct bandages on simulated wounds, spraying the fibers on a gloved hand from a distance of up to 16 centimeters. In a second test, the team created transitional bandages, sprayed on parchment paper for later application. The team also added the antibiotic vancomycin to electrospun bandages, which when tested with live Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. In addition, the researchers created fiber bandages with gold nanoparticles, used for drug delivery.

Results of the tests show the EStAD system created both direct and transitional bandages on various surfaces, including a simulated wound in pig skin. The system’s bandages, both direct and transitional, with the antibiotic vancomycin killed staph bacteria in a petri dish. And tests of EStAD system bandages seeded with gold nanoparticles showed the bandages release the gold particles on simulated surfaces.

The authors expect their device can help clinics, particularly those in rural areas, can benefit from the EStAD system. “The bandage material, as well as the drug used,” adds Huston, “can be chosen on demand as the situation warrants, making modular and adaptable drug delivery accessible in remote locations.”

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