Silica Gel Fibers Improve Wound Healing

Photo: Walther Glaubitt (left) and Jörn Probst

Researchers of the Fraunhofer
Institute with silica gel fibers;
© Kai-Uwe Nielsen/Fraunhofer

It was developed by scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC in Würzburg, Germany. According to the scientists, this dressing offers many advantages: it is shape-stable, pH-neutral and 100 percent bioresorbable. Once applied it remains in the body, where it gradually degrades without leaving any residues. What’s more, the fibre fleece provides the healthy cells around the edges of the wound with the structure they additionally need for a proper supply of growth-supporting nutrients.

To prevent any infection, treatment of the wound must be absolutely sterile. “As only the outer bandage needs to be changed, the risk of contaminating the wound is low,” explains Dr. Jörn Probst of the ISC. And thanks to the supporting matrix for the cells, the chances of a scar-free natural closure of the wound are very good.

The fibers are produced by means of wet-chemical material synthesis, a sol-gel process in which a transparent, honey-like gel is produced from tetraethoxysilane (TEOS), ethanol and water in a multi-stage, acidically catalyzed synthesis process. The gel is processed in a spinning tower.

“We press it through fine nozzles at constant temperatures and humidity levels,” explains Walther Glaubitt, the inventor of the silica gel fibers. “This produces fine endless threads which are collected on a traversing table and spun in a specific pattern to produce a roughly A4-sized multi-layer textile web.” The dressings are then cut, packed and sterilized.

A partner to support the development and market the dressing has already been found. The producers expect that hospitals start using it by 2011.; Source: Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft