Have you ever had a deep cut and wished you could just spray something on to heal it? Science may provide us with such a solution sooner than you think.
INSERM, a European medical research institution, has a research group which has come up with a gel that can be applied to wounds. The gel starts healing the wounds within seconds on rats, which are similar physiologically to humans.
The gel has been around since the end of 2013, but this is the first news of it actually working in living organisms.
The gel works by the use of nanoparticles. These particular nanoparticles spread out over the surface of the wound and bind to the outer edges of the area to be healed. Once the nanoparticles are bound into place they act as a glue, which holds the affliction together.
This is great for skin wounds, but what about other organs and tissues? It turns out that this technique can be used for other organs, such as the liver. This was again proven with rat studies. What is great about this feat is that typically organs such as the liver are very difficult to suture. Thus when the liver has been cut and is bleeding, doctors may have a very difficult time controlling the bleeding. If this new gel proves to be safe in humans it may revolutionize procedures like that.
The process of adhesion which is used in this gel can extend beyond just wound healing as well. For instance one group was able to successfully use the nanoparticle adhesion process to perform cell therapy on heart cells. This is something that would normally be extremely difficult because of the fact that the heart is constantly beating. That motion makes it difficult to deliver targeted therapy to the heart. However since these nanoparticles are able to adhere to the heart, they can transfer the therapy stably, despite the beating heart.
This breakthrough may just open up a world of possibilities to the medical community if it is able to pass human trials (which typically takes a long time, so don't expect this on the market anytime soon).
Of course it is promising that the gel has proven effective in mice, but what about those nanoparticles? The researchers thought of that problem too. The nanoparticles used for the adhesive gel are made of materials easily metabolized by the human body. In other words they can be broken up and used safely by your body once they have served their purpose. This is of course important since one of the hurdles nanoparticles have to overcome is that many types of them have yet to be proven safe for use in the human body.
Perhaps one day we will all have nanoparticles probing our bodies and repairing the injuries that we inevitably incur in everyday life, and that will be one less thing we have to worry about.
Jeremie is a Wilmington resident and Clarkson University graduate student. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org