A number of hospitals in the UK, Europe, and Israel are trialling a new piece of technology developed by Israeli start-up Nanomedic that ‘shoots’ a web of synthetic skin used to treat burns and wounds. The device, called Spincare may look and sound like it comes straight out of a sci-fi or even Spiderman film but there are high hopes the new technology will help patients avoid the pain that can be involved in the re-dressing of wounds using traditional bandages.
The battery-powered, handheld device, referred to as a ‘gun’, uses a laser to target an injured area of skin. Spincare then spins and fires a breathable mesh resembling a spider’s web. The mesh, which resembles the structure of our skin is then fired onto the surface of the wound.
Nanomedic, the Israeli start-up that has developed the gun, says some of the advantages its synthetic skin meshes offer over traditional bandages include greater mobility for patients and it being easier to shower. Once applied, the mesh becomes transparent, providing the added advantage of allowing doctors to examine a wound without having to touch it, avoiding the need for bandages to be removed and then reapplied.
Testing is currently underway at Queen Victoria Hospital in West Sussex. The hospital is known for its specialist burns and reconstructive surgery units. Eight patients have so far been given the new treatment.
The synthetic skin mesh Spincare devices ‘fire’ onto a wound or burn is produced from a vial of liquid that is then transformed into fine threads by a small electric current. The covering naturally comes off as a wound heals. The technique, known as ‘electrospinning’ is not new to medicine and has been used for decades. However, until now large, expensive machines were required.
Nanotech has evolved the technology in a way that has allowed it to be incorporated into a small, portable device that can be used in ambulances as well as more easily, and cost-effectively, in hospitals. As its name suggests, the company specialises in miniaturising previously bulky technologies.
Baljit Dheansa, a consultant plastic surgeon at Queen Victoria, explains how the web resembles natural skin:
“When you look at it under the microscope it resembles this fine mesh weave that allows fluid to come through but also stays stuck to the wound underneath. It protects it, reduces pain, reduces the overall amount of fluid and also means that you don’t expose the raw surface of the wound until it’s fully healed.”
In parallel to the tests at the Queen Victoria, the Spincare system is also being tested in Europe and Isreal. Nanotech chief executive Chen Barak says testing is going well. For a majority of patients, the mesh dressing has remained in place and prevented wounds from becoming infected.
Queen Victoria Hospital will publish its findings from the trial for other burn units to refer to when considering whether to adopt the new technology themselves.Important:
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