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Drug-releasing textiles could, for instance, be used to treat skin wounds. Empa researchers are currently developing polymer fibers that can be equipped with drugs. The smart fibers recognize the need for therapy all by themselves and dose the active ingredients with precision and accuracy.
For the Self Care Materials project, fibers are produced from biodegradable polymers using various processes. "The targeted use of the fiber determines which manufacturing process is best," explains Empa researcher and project coordinator René Rossi. Delicate, light membranes with a large surface are formed during so-called electrospinning. If robust fibers are required, e.g. for protective clothing, it is better to draw the melted ingredients. In the end, all processes produce novel fibers, the nano-architecture of which is made up of several layers and components. "The properties of these new materials are currently being investigated with test substances," says Rossi. In the finished product, for example, antibiotics or painkillers are to be integrated into the fibers.
Order - Dosage - Substances - Researchers - Control
In order to ensure that the dosage of the active substances is precisely as needed, the researchers have devised a tricky control mechanism: Some polymers are degradable by the body under certain conditions. This property can be used specifically. Rossi: "In response to a stimulus from the body, the fibers should release their drugs into the environment at a calculated degradation rate." Such an irritation can be the altered pH value of a skin wound, which indicates that the tissue damage must be treated. As a so-called self-care material, the fibers in the form of a...
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