Cellulose wound dressing uses peptides to kill bacteria
Although it's vitally important to keep wounds free of harmful bacteria, antibacterial ointments have to be regularly reapplied, requiring bandages to be removed. A new wound dressing, however, is claimed to continuously kill bacteria all on its own.
Developed by scientists at Switzerland's Empa research institute, the experimental dressing takes the form of a thin membrane made mainly of plant-derived cellulose fibers. Each fiber is less than one micrometer (a millionth of a meter) in diameter.
During the electrospinning process which is utilized to create the fibers, polyurethane is added to the cellulose. This makes the material flexible, yet also durable.
Next, the membrane is treated with a solution of custom-engineered "bifunctional" peptides (short chains of amino acids) – they're described as bifunctional because they both bind to the cellulose and they have antibacterial qualities. What's more, they're easier to produce than more commonly used antibacterial proteins, plus they're more stable and thus longer-lasting.
In lab tests, the membrane was well-tolerated by human skin cells, plus it eradicated over 99.99 percent of harmful bacteria such as staphylococci – these are commonly found in infected wounds. It is hoped that once the technology is developed further, the dressing could also contain other therapeutic compounds that boost the healing process.
The research is described in a paper that was recently published in the journal Advanced Healthcare Materials.