Harvard researchers have created a new kind of device that could create new dressing types for the wound care industry.

In most of the recent developments that advance wound healing, whether they’re an ultrasound diagnostic tool or a wearable system for preventing ulcers, one thread connects all of these technologies: portability. Having something that’s quick to use and easy to carry around is essential for proper wound care, especially in emergency situations or for use on the battlefield.

This sense of portability is at the center of recent efforts from Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. These efforts could prove hugely beneficial to the future of effective wound healing.

New nano fibers galore

As outlined in a recent edition of the journal Macromolecular Materials and Engineering, the Harvard team has developed a handheld nanofiber device that can dress wounds anywhere. In the past, the Harvard collective had developed a number of different techniques for creating nanofibers, including Immersion Rotary Jet-Spinning and Rotary Jet-Spinning. Both techniques work about the same, and involve the use of centrifugal force to turn dissolved polymers into sturdy and durable nano fibers.

The problem; neither approach was particularly portable. In addition, the creation of these fibers required larger pieces of equipment. In order to make the creation of fibers a handheld experience, the Harvard team employed a new fabrication method called pull spinning. In this streamlined approach, there are fewer steps in the process of converting protein solutions into fibers, and that’s essential for making the IRJ and RJS techniques easy to use on the field.

While there are huge wound-care implications for this device – including creating new dressing types and aiding in tissue regeneration – it can be used for more than healthcare. In an accompanying press release, lead author Kit Parker, who also teaches bioengineering and applied physics, explained that this device presents a slew of opportunities across industries.

“This simple, proof-of-concept study demonstrates the utility of this system for point-of-use manufacturing,” Parker said in a statement, “Future applications for directed production of customizable nanotextiles could extend to spray-on sportswear that gradually heats or cools an athlete’s body, sterile bandages deposited directly onto a wound, and fabrics with locally varying mechanical properties.”

Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in specialized wound-care supplies, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.