Receiving treatment for a burn is not entirely easy, nor as painless as it may seem. In fact, the healing process of a burn is the real challenge that awaits a burn victim. This is due to the frequency of necessary dressing changes, which can be extremely painful.
Recently, researchers at the University of Waterloo, Canada, developed a new form of wound dressing material using advanced polymers to address this problem and others.
The new dressing can speed the recovery of burn victims and can also be used to administer drugs for cancer treatment and for cosmetic purposes, Medical News reported.
“To treat burn victims, we can customize the shape using a 3D printer; second, the material has refined surface adhesion, which is a key feature,” said Dr. Boxin Zhao, a professor in the university’s chemical engineering department and the leader of the research team.
Dr. Zhao’s team has made substantial progress in creating smart hydrogel materials for use as washable dressings.
“The material can easily adhere to the skin and be pulled off. It’s a very delicate balance within the material for the adhesion to work,” he added.
According to the study, 3D scanning of the patient’s face and body components helps tailor and individualize the dressing for burn victims and cancer treatment.
Additionally, the material can also be used to treat cancer, saving the patient from spending hours in a clinic. As a continuous drug release outside of the clinical environment, it helps eliminate problems with conventional techniques.
Research suggests these smart plasters are made of cellulose nanocrystals, a heat-sensitive polymer and an algae-based biopolymer.
The dressing may heat up on the skin and gradually cool to room temperature due to its thermal reactivity.
Additionally, the dressing expands when cold in the refrigerator but contracts to a smaller size at body temperature, making removal easier and less unpleasant. Additionally, the dressing is designed to deliver time-release medication, allowing for greater pain relief.
For Zhao’s Surface Science and Bio-Nanomaterials Laboratory Group, this study serves as a proof of concept.
The next step for Zhao’s research team is to continue improving the attributes of the material to make it more beneficial to human health and marketable.