Superhydrophobic Biomaterial Makes an Ideal Gauze: Rapid Bleeding Stoppage and Easy Removal After Healing Prevents Infections

Superhydrophobic Biomaterial Makes an Ideal Gauze: Rapid Bleeding Stoppage and Easy Removal After Healing Prevents Infections

Uncontrolled hemorrhage and wound infection are leading causes of death in wound care, driving the need for advanced hemostatic materials promoting fast clotting, minimal blood loss and easy- removal features. In our latest work, published in Nature Communications, we present a nano-structured superhydrophobic material can overcomes such challenges of the state of the art:  Zhe Li, Athanasios Milionis, Yu Zheng, et al, Superhydrophobic hemostatic nanofiber composites for fast clotting and minimal adhesion. Nature Communications (2019) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-13512-8.

The newly developed material brings with it a dual function, by first rapidly accelerating blood clotting and stopping bleeding and then inherently allowing easy removal from the wound for dressing changes, alleviating secondary bleeding”. The surface superhydrophobicity holds the blood within the wound not allowing permeation in the gauze, facilitating the ceasing of  bleeding. Subsequently, this material promotes quick fibrin fiber generation sealing and reinforcing the wound healing. In the end, upon clot maturation, since the patch material did not soak up blood, the clot contraction alone reduces adhesion and the gauze material can be easily removed, practically releasing itself. This avoids secondary wound tears and infection during traditional patch removal. Finally, the superhydrophobic surface is naturally resistant to bacteria attachment. The new material material can thus provide an all-around, effective and economical solution to an existing and common problem in trauma treatment. Our team has filed a patent for the technology and is seeking commercialization.

This discovery was  partially coincidental. We were initially looking for materials that are hemo-compatible, and wanted to reduce thrombosis by reducing the blood flow stresses by nanoengineering appropriate surfaces. Instead, we observed that this nano-structured surface generated abundantly and rapidly fibrin  when in contact with blood enabling fast clotting. We then realized that this material would be an excellent candidate for hemostasis. Out of curiosity, we investigated its capabilities for hemostatic application, and were surprised by how well it worked for this purpose, even in the in vivo animal experiment.

The carbon nanofiber nanostructure is found to be a key factor for fibrin fiber generation on this superhydrophobic surface. At a reduced carbon nanofiber content or on a less hydrophobic surface, no quick fibrin fiber generation was observed. As the fibrin fiber generation can occur in the presence of anti-coagulant, the exact mechanism still needs to be explored. We think that this follow up investigation will be equally interesting, and can lead to very useful functional optimizations.

This work is a collaboration between the National University of Singapore and ETH Zurich, enabled by a grant for the international collaboration, which was provided by CREATE, a part of the Singapore National Research Foundation. Our work was made possible with the collaborative environment and funding agency’s efforts to foster such collaborations, and we strongly encourage that such research funding initiatives further intensify in the future. This work is an example of how such interdisciplinary inter-institutional interactions at the global level can achieve significant scientific breakthroughs.