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Scientists have developed an artificial skin with nanoscale fibres

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Posted July 3, 2019

Human skin is incredible. It is elastic, it is tough and for the most part it heals pretty well. However, in some cases skin could really use some help. Deep burn wound and other traumas take time to heal and make the life of the patient quite miserable. Now scientists from the University of Edinburgh have developed an artificial skin, which could improve wound recovery for patients with burns or skin grafts.

Synthetic skin could aid healing wounds. Pictured is a regular band-aid plaster patch, not the synthetic skin version. Image credit: saulhm via Wikimedia

Artificial skin is actually nothing new. The big thing about this recent achievement is the ability to adapt the skin to the patient’s body. Scientists created this new artificial skin using nanoscale technology.

They employed a method known as nozzle-free electrospinning. This newly developed device comprises a rotating cylinder above a pool of solution containing the two components of the fabric. The cylinder is heated to a high temperature. It is then spun above the liquid. Tiny fibres form and stick to the hot surface. Once the cylinder cools down, a fabric is formed.

Artificial skin produced using nanoscale technology (credit: Antonios Keirouz)

Artificial skin produced using nanoscale technology (credit: Antonios Keirouz)

The best thing about this artificial skin is that its thickness and elasticity can be custom-matched to specific areas of the body. Artificial skin protects the wounded area and allows it to heal. It is then absorbed into a healing skin – doctors would not have to remove it.

This artificial skin is rich in fibres that act like a scaffold on which newly formed skin can grow. It really does help, as tests with skin cells have already shown. A good size piece of this artificial skin can be fabricated in minutes. It is made just from two different synthetic components, compromising fibres that are thousands of times thinner than a hair. But, as always, this will takes years to reach clinical application.

Four years, to be precise. Scientists are predicting that in four years they will have developed the material for medical use. Dr Norbert Radacsi, one of the authors of the study, said: “Our technique is a cost-effective way of making artificial skin adapted for all areas of body, to accelerate the wound healing process”. And because the material would be absorbed by the healing skin, frequent changes of bandaging would not be necessary.

Overall, this artificial skin should improve the healing if the wounds, reduce human suffering and create an area without too much of a scar tissue. And because of its custom made quality, it would be perfectly suited for any particular area on the body.

And that’s an important thing – you skin is different depending on the area of the body. You want thicker skin on the back of your legs and thinner, more elastic skin on your face. This new method allows to tailor these essential qualities of the artificial skin.

 

Source: University of Edinburgh

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