In Brief
Scientists from Northwestern University have been able to create a heat-sensitive bandage that coaxes naturally-occurring stem cells to heal wounds faster.

A Better Bandage

Technology that allows wounds to heal faster is in great need, especially for those patients that are susceptible to complications from seemingly simple injuries. For diabetics, small bruises and cuts can be life-threatening. What if there was a way to speed up healing these wounds?

The answer may lie in this new bandage. Researchers from Northwestern University have developed a heat-responsive bandage that helps wounds heal faster.

The study, published in the Journal of Controlled Release, has a particular focus on diabetics. If an individual with diabetes does not notice a wound, it can become infected. Further, the high glucose level of diabetics often impairs the wound healing process.

An Unexpected Ally

The bandage uses a mixture of polyethylene glycol and the protein SDF-1. This protein is the key ingredient, coaxing nearby stem cells to repair the blood vessels and the tissue affected by the wound. This same protein is used by the body to attract repair cells to damaged areas.

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Dermal tissue repaired using the bandage. Northwestern

Why apply it as a bandage and not just a direct application of large amounts of the protein? The researchers determined that large applications has no benefit to wound repair. Meanwhile, slow release from a bandage maximizes the benefits of the treatment.

Also, the materials used have inherent antioxidant properties, helping deal with inflammation and reducing oxidative stress.

Finally, the whole bandage is temperature-sensitive, changing states based on heat. Applied, it is a gel-like substance, which solidifies at room temperature, and then turns back into a gel when cooled. This prevents the pain and even additional damage caused by the adhesives in typical bandages.