BALTIMORE, MARYLAND—Medical engineers have long used nano-sized fibers as sturdy scaffolds for growing tissues. Now, researchers are developing nanofiber meshes that might suck bugs out of wounds and accelerate healing, they report here this week at the 61st annual AVS meeting. Scientists have injected cell-carrying nanofibers into wounds to jump-start tissue repair, but to design a truly smart dressing, they need to know how the material interacts with bacteria. After testing nanofibers of various sizes, researchers found that bugs transfer most easily to nanofibers with diameters that match the bacteria’s sizes. When the scientists placed nanofibers in a petri dish of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium involved in chronic infection, the bugs quickly attached themselves to 500-nanometer-wide fibers (as seen above), but hardly onto fibers with larger diameters. When the researchers coated the nanofibers with different compounds and tested them on the bacteria Escherichia coli, also responsible for chronic wounds, the bugs formed bridges on fibers coated with allylamine, a colorless organic compound, but stayed away from fibers coated with acrylic acid. The researchers, who plan to test the meshes on composites that resemble human skin, hope that they will eventually lead to smart wound dressings that could prevent infections. Doctors could stick the nano–Band-Aid on a wound and simply peel it off to get rid of the germs.
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