The coatings have successfully passed pre-clinical animal tests, showing their effectiveness in tissue regeneration, as well as high antibacterial properties. Besides, the development is significantly cheaper than its foreign analogues.
The research results were published in Applied Surface Science Magazine.
Pathologies of the soft tissues of the maxillofacial area often require surgical intervention. According to old methods, after surgery, the wound surface is left open for healing by secondary tissue tension, or an autograft from another area is used.
“Using traditional methods can result in the formation of scar tissue, as well as to long and painful wounds healing. To optimise healing, various wound coverings are used, which are fixed by interrupted stitches along the wound’s edges. Generally, foreign coverings are used; therefore, the cost of treatment increases,” Anastasia Konyaeva, a research team member, an assistant at the Department of Human Anatomy with a course in topographic anatomy and operative surgery at the Siberian State Medical University, told Sputnik.
Evgeny Bolbasov, the project manager, a researcher at the Laboratory of Plasma Hybrid Systems of TPU, added that foreign analogues are manufactured using costly technology. In Russia, the electrospinning method is used, where a high-intensity electric field produces non-woven fibrous structures.
“This method allows us to control the membrane structure and thickness; it also scales quite easily. We can quickly move from scientific research to industrial production,” the expert emphasised.
Non-woven membranes are made of a Russian-made copolymer of vinylidene fluoride and tetrafluoroethylene (VDF-TeFE). Using the electrospinning method, the researchers have managed to significantly reduce the cost of the material and improve its properties.
“To make the coverings, we used Russian polymers and our own unique equipment. In Russia, Nizhny Novgorod is engaged in the development of these materials; our colleagues use phospholipid matrices, which are quite expensive. There is also the question of so-called immune responses; our materials are very inert structures that don’t cause any negative reactions. Also, they are easily processed and modified using plasma processing,” Sergei Tverdokhlebov, Head of the Plasma Hybrid Systems Laboratory, said.
To modify the membranes, the scientists coated the surface with a copper coating using magnetron sputtering. Copper is a cheap and highly effective broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent.
The manufactured polymer membranes have successfully passed pre-clinical trials in laboratory animals; the researchers have studied their mucous and conducted a series of histological and immunohistochemical tests.
“The results of our joint research have shown that overlapping a wound defect with a piezoelectric polymer membrane is more effective than using traditional methods. Besides, the copper coating helps prevent the penetration of microbes into the wound, which results in faster healing,” Elena Varakuta, professor at Siberian State Medical University, told Sputnik.
The next stage will imply limited clinical trials, improving the technology, as well as studying the effect of the material’s piezoelectric properties on the regeneration process.
In addition to TPU and the Siberian State Medical University, the research also involved Tomsk State University, the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Materials, the Zuev Institute of Atmospheric Optics, Tomsk State University of Control Systems and Radio-electronics, and the Institute of Strength Physics and Materials Science SB RAS.