Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Using Light-Activated Technologies for Battlefield Injuries

A recent research study by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research shows that conventional sutures as well as glues and staples used to repair wounds in the skin or to reconnect nerves, blood vessels, tendons and corneal incisions, can be replaced with Photochemical Tissue Bonding. According to Dr. Irene Kochevar (Massachusetts General Hospital Wellman Center researcher and Harvard Med School professor), "We have demonstrated that this technology is very helpful in medicine for the Air Force because it produces better healing and functional outcomes than the same wounds that were treated with conventional materials.”

Bonding (aka nanosutures) is achieved when a dye is applied to the wound, after which the wound is exposed to green light for a brief time. The dye absorbs the light and then proceeds to molecularly bond proteins on the surface of the tissues. "No glues, proteins or other materials are used that might stimulate an inflammatory response," said Kochevar. "An immediate, water-tight seal is formed between the tissue surfaces leading to reduced inflammation in the near term and better scar formation in the long term."

Researchers plan to continue to assess the efficacy of this new technology, particularly as to how it might be made even more effective in the field. If all goes well, they hope to create a shorter treatment time and an even stronger bond. "We are approaching this challenge by identifying the basic molecular mechanisms responsible for light-activated crosslinking," she said. "We believe that this information will show us how to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the nanosuturing technology on the battlefield."

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