From Spaceships to Wound-Healing

New technology from NASA’s Technology Transfer Program brings forth a type of polymeric bandage that when electrically charged, assists wounds on human flesh to heal faster.

The material is made of polyvinylidene fluoride, or PVDF, a thermoplastic polymer that can generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress. Creators Mia Siochi and Lisa Scott Carnell, synthesized the bandage using a process called electrospinning, where nano-thin polymeric fibers are created using electric charge. The fabrication method was based on a previous invention of another polymeric material from Langley Research Center.

Siochi and Carnell's work was initially motivated by applications for morphing aircraft capable of adapting to its environment, but the properties of PVDF that they discovered quickly turned the research into a budding breakthrough for medical use.

A Better Bandage

PVDF bandages have great potential in healing humans. Naturally, the body's electric properties generate a voltage across tissues that drive healing cells, called keratinocytes, forward. The application of the electroactive gauze improves this function. What's more, NASA scientists saw that the electric field of the bandage was activated just by body temperature.

"This method utilizes generated low level electrical stimulation to promote the wound healing process while simultaneously protecting it from infection," said NASA in a statement.

PVDF bandages could give us a future of an apply-at-home first-aid pad, providing efficient treatment by just pressing the pad onto the skin. People can decrease pricey visits to the doctor's office. More importantly, immediate attention to wounds would decrease the chance for further complications. The development would be extremely valuable for wounded astronauts in space, military personnel in the field of battle, hospital patients undergoing surgery, and possibly many more.

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