Scientists Create Dressing Gun to Treat Wounds
A new device that shoots dressings was inspired in part by spider webs.
In the comic books, Spider-Man created his web slinger after being bitten by a radioactive spider. With these two twin-mounted wrist cannons, the blue-and-red hero swung rapidly across New York City on webs that have the tensile strength of steel. Though Spider-Man and these web launchers are (unfortunately) fictional, they’ve nonetheless inspired a new piece of technology in the field of wound care. As the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported, researchers in Israel have developed a device that shoots fibrous wound dressings.
Researchers at Sheba Medical Center have nicknamed the Spinner device as the “spider gun.” Rather than shooting Spider-Man’s distinctive webbing, it releases a series of small fibers – up to 200 times less dense than human hair – which are used to create customized dressings for wounds. Because of the gun’s design, it can spin dressings of varying thickness and size, making it perfect for treating everything from venous ulcers to moderate burns. What makes the gun’s dressings so incredibly powerful? They do an excellent job of mimicking the extracellular matrix.
According to the British Society for Cell Biology, the matrix refers to nodules that secrete proteins like collagen, which in turn serve as the foundation for new tissue structures. The matrix is recreated by the gun through a process called electrospinning in which electricity is used to cause a series of chemical reactions. The webs, which have a similar structure to the matrix, support the wound and allow new tissues to grow and flourish. Wounds treated with the Spinner are expected to heal much faster than most conventional dressings.
The gun can also be fired from a distance of up to eight feet, which means less chance of infectious exposure between caregivers and their patients. Plus, the resulting dressings are extra lightweight, and that will greatly cut down on irritation to the surrounding skin. The web dressings don’t use any harmful glues or solvents, and removal is described as being quick and easy.
“This is an exciting concept,” Stella Vig, a vascular surgeon at Croydon University Hospital, told the Daily Mail. “This may well increase wound healing, saving the patients untold misery as well as saving the NHS (National Health Service) much-needed money.”
The Spinner is currently undergoing trials in Israel where it’s being used on a group of 40 patients. If the experiments are a success, the device could make its way into hospitals, doctors’ offices and wound care clinics in the very near future.
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