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The Medical Bond: New bandage is just like a scab

New Contributor III
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Before I rammed my knee into the sharp edge of my desk a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had a scab in years — decades, even. Scabs are unsightly, but they are really important in protecting an open wound against infection, and they stop the wound from bleeding. They also recruit new cells that help it heal quickly.

Ordinary bandages that you can buy at the grocery store are just barriers, keeping out dirt and microbes, while also stopping the blood from getting on your clothes. Sure, they sometimes have antibiotics on the white cotton pad, but they don’t really make the wound heal faster or attract new cells from the body to do so.

Now, researchers have built a better material for wound dressing that does just that. Shutao Wang and colleagues used human scabs as inspiration to make this material.

I bet this new dressing doesn’t have superheroes on it, as some bandages on the market do, but it does have a rather interesting texture. Their “cytophilic” wound dressing mimics the underside of scabs, where tiny fibers are arranged in the same direction like velvet or a cat’s fur. To make it, the team spun fibers of polyurethane — the common durable and flexible plastic — into the same pattern.

In laboratory experiments, the human cells involved in healing quickly attached to the material and lined up like those in actual scabs. The scientists conclude that this membrane “is of great potential in fabricating dressing materials for rapid wound healing, as well as other biomaterials, such as membrane for capturing circulating tumor cells, bone growth and constructing neural networks.”

Will we soon see this dressing on supermarket shelves? Do we need a new type of bandage? What do you think of this new material?

“Scab-Inspired Cytophilic Membrane of Anisotropic Nanofibers for Rapid Wound Healing”

*Journalists can request a PDF of the journal article by emailing


Credit: iStockphoto/Thinkstock 

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