While you may think that standard bandages already serve as sort-of artificial scabs, the fact is that they mainly just compress and protect the wound – a scab, on the other hand, actually helps it heal. Now, however, scientists are working on a wound dressing that promotes healing in the same fashion as a scab.

The underside of a scab is covered with protein nanofibers that are all aligned in the same direction, not unlike velvet. A team of scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jinlin University and the First Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University replicated that structure, in their “cytophilic” wound dressing material.

Instead of protein, the nanofibers in the material were spun from polyurethane in the same pattern as their natural counterparts. These were attached to the underside of a membrane, also made from polyurethane. When “wound-healing-related cells” were introduced to the material, they quickly attached themselves to it in the same lined-up orientation as they would in a scab, thanks to the layout of the nanofibers.

The scientists believe that their material shows great potential as a means of rapid wound healing. A paper on their research was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.