THE NEXT BIG THING ON SKIN HEALING: THE e-bandage.

Chronic skin wounds include diabetic foot ulcers, venous ulcers and non-healing surgical wounds. Doctors have tried various approaches to help chronic wounds heal, including bandaging, dressing, exposure to oxygen and growth-factor therapy, but they often show limited effectiveness. As early as the 1960s, researchers observed that electrical stimulation could help skin wounds heal. However, the equipment for generating the electric field is often large and may require patient hospitalization. Weibo Cai, Xudong Wang and colleagues wanted to develop a flexible, self-powered bandage that could convert skin movements into a therapeutic electric field.

To power their electric bandage, or e-bandage, the researchers made a wearable nanogenerator by overlapping sheets of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), copper foil and polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The nanogenerator converted skin movements, which occur during normal activity or even breathing, into small electrical pulses. This current flowed to two working electrodes that were placed on either side of the skin wound to produce a weak electric field. The team tested the device by placing it over wounds on rats’ backs. Wounds covered by e-bandages closed within 3 days, compared with 12 days for a control bandage with no electric field. The researchers attribute the faster wound healing to enhanced fibroblast migration, proliferation and differentiation induced by the electric field.

How it works: On the bandage, an alternating discrete electric field is generated by a wearable nanogenerator by converting mechanical displacement from skin movements into electricity. Rat studies demonstrated rapid closure of a full-thickness rectangular skin wound within 3 days as compared to 12 days of usual contraction-based healing processes in rodents. From in vitro studies, the accelerated skin wound healing was attributed to electric field-facilitated fibroblast migration, proliferation, and transdifferentiation. This self-powered electric-dressing modality could lead to a facile therapeutic strategy for non-healing skin wound treatment. Photo Credit: The American Chemical Society.

Content Provided by the American Chemical Society.

Journal Reference:

  1. Yin Long, Hao Wei, Jun Li, Guang Yao, Bo Yu, Dalong Ni, Angela LF Gibson, Xiaoli Lan, Yadong Jiang, Weibo Cai, Xudong Wang. Effective Wound Healing Enabled by Discrete Alternative Electric Fields from Wearable NanogeneratorsACS Nano, 2018; DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.8b07038
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Author: Jesus Padilla

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