Dr. Crusher's Mad Skills Being Studied By Modern Day Researchers
Lasers and nano-technology are not just for the Enterprise sick bay anymore. Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital are working on new ways of sealing wounds using techniques perfected by Dr. Crusher.
Last year, the military’s research agency, Darpa, requested proposals for instant injury repair using adult stem cells, and Pentagon scientists are already doing human trials of spray-on skin.
The process would replace the sutures and staples traditionally used to repair wounded skin. Instead of being sealed up with a needle and thread, a patient’s wound would be coated in a dye, then exposed to green light for 2-3 minutes. The dye absorbs the light and catalyzes molecular bonds between the tissue’s collagen.
The bonds instantly create a seal that’s watertight, which prevents inflammation or risk of infection, and speeds up the formation of scar tissue.
Massachusetts General Hospital researchers Irene Kochevar, Robert Redmond and dermatologist Sandy Tsao are behind the nano-tech project, which has been funded by various agencies within the Department of Defense for eight years. They’ve successfully tried out the nano-sutures in lab experiments and a clinical trial of 31 patients in need of skin incisions.
“It’s so simple, but such an improvement on current processes, and that’s what’s really remarkable,” Kochevar told Danger Room. The process uses a hand-held laser device that’s about a foot long and a few inches wide.
Penetrating eye wounds, like shrapnel injuries, could also benefit from a patch version of the treatment. A biological membrane stained with dye would be applied over the eye, and quickly sealed using the laser until a soldier could undergo more intensive surgery.
“We’re so close to these processes being used,” Kochevar said. “But FDA approval is still a real hurdle.” (source Wired.com)
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