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Researchers develop 'natural bandages' that mimic body's healing process

With the same compound the body uses to clot blood, scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University have created a nano-fiber mat that could eventually become a "natural bandage." Spun from strands of fibrinogen 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, the fabric could be placed on a wound and never taken off minimizing blood loss and encouraging the natural healing process.

The research will be reported in the Feb. 12 print edition of Nano Letters, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

"If you were bleeding and a paramedic came up to you on the street, what would he do?" asks Gary Bowlin, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering at VCU and lead author of the paper. "He'd probably whip out a gauze, slap it on and hold pressure on it. When you get to the hospital, they're going to rip that gauze off and start the bleeding all over again."

The new mat could be placed directly on the bleeding site to start the clotting process, then, depending on the nature and severity of the wound, it could be left there to promote healing and eventually be absorbed by the body, according to the researchers. It could potentially be used for anything from a minor cut to a battlefield wound, where it is vital to stop bleeding immediately while waiting for transport to a distant hospital.

"Or sometimes in surgery there are small bleeders that surgeons can't control," Bowlin says. "In this case, they can just take a small piece of this mat, slap it down, stop the bleeding and leave it. Similar to what people use when they cut themselves shaving just put a little dab on there and it's done."

The researchers made the mat out of fibrinogen, a natural compound found in the bloodstream. When you get cut, your body activates its clotting mechanism a cascade of reactions where fibrinogen is broken down and converted to fibrin. "Fibrin is the meshwork, the netting," Bowlin says. "I
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Contact: Beverly Hassell
b_hassell@acs.org
202-872-4065
American Chemical Society
10-Feb-2003


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