These ultra-thin new nanosheets can protect against infection

Japanese researchers have developed a new, extra thin material called a nanosheet that covers and clings to wounds in order to accelerate healing and prevent infection. It will be particularly useful for burns victims, whose injuries need to be protected from exposure to air in order to avoid bacteria.

Yosuke Okamura and his team from Tokai University make the nanosheets by spinning a biodegradable polyester in a test tube with water. They pour this onto a surface, and it knits together as it dries.

When it’s applied to burns, it forms a dressing that is able to protect against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria that can cause fatal infections. The material is especially useful for areas that it’s hard to get existing dressings to stick to without adhesive, like fingers and toes.

One nanosheet lasts three days, or six with an additional application, meaning this innovation should not only help wounds to heal more quickly but reduce the number of changes of dressings patients need. Okamura and his team are presenting their findings this week at the National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Although nanosheets are some way off being approved for hospital use, the scientists are now planning for animal and human trials and hope that they become a commonplace tool in future. In the meantime, they’re also working on ultra-thin coatings for medical devices like catheters.

Image credit: Yosuke Okamura

Diane Shipley