San Antonio Lab Seeks to Enhance Wound Treatment Using Biocompatible Nanofiber Technology

Story Number: NNS140717-19Release Date: 7/17/2014 4:50:00 PM

From Naval Medical Research Unit, San Antonio Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO (NNS) -- Researchers at the Naval Medical Research Unit San Antonio (NAMRU-SA), are currently developing biocompatible nanofiber technology to enhance wound treatment.

Scientists plan to integrate nanofibers into coatings for use on medical materials, such as titanium implants, to improve treatment for craniofacial injuries. These nanofibers can deliver bioactive agents at a sustained rate and can be assembled into a 3-D architecture to guide cell behavior.

To synthesize the nanofibers, NAMRU-SA's biomedical engineering team constructed a custom electrospinning apparatus. The electrospinning process is currently used in industry for the manufacture of air filters and other items requiring a thin application of multiple layers of fibers.

In using the electrospinner for the creation of a nanofiber-based coating, a polymer solution is first fed through a spinneret under an applied electric field, the droplets elongate under the electric charge, and a thin, continuous fiber of submicron diameter is created.

The nanofiber composition and structure are readily controlled during the electrospinning process, enabling the user to tailor nanofibers to a wide variety of biomedical applications.

A project underway at NAMRU-SA will explore the mechanical properties of nanofiber wound dressings, and describe the release of bioactive factors and their impact on cellular behavior. Nanofibers will be electrospun into a scaffold to create a biomimetic wound dressing.

The nanofiber scaffold will promote tissue repair by creating a surface which mimics that of the natural cellular environment, while simultaneously releasing growth factors to accelerate healing and potentially minimize the formation of scar tissue.

Researchers may also use nanofibers to develop antimicrobial coatings on cranial implants. Nanofibers can be loaded with antibiotic drugs and then bonded to the surface of the implant to achieve localized sustained release of the drug.

Using nanofiber coatings may reduce the incidences of postoperative bacterial infection and subsequent surgeries due to implant rejection.

While development of the nanofiber technology is ongoing, these nanofiber coatings offer the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs associated with wound treatment.

NAMRU-SA's mission is to conduct medical, dental, and directed energy biomedical research, which focuses on ways to enhance the health, safety, performance, and operational readiness of Navy and Marine Corps personnel and addresses their emergent medical and dental problems in routine and combat operations.

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