An ultra-sound way to make bandages stick

24th August 2022
Sheryl Miles

Researchers from McGill University have found that ultrasound waves and bubbles can be used to control the stickiness of medical adhesives.

The breakthrough was born out of a need for medical bio adhesives to be able to stick to skin – even when wet, and to be able to control how long those adhesives remain on the skin, and when they come back off again.

Some of the most used bio adhesives are bandages, glues, and stickers; however, they aren’t great to control, especially if they need to be applied to wet skin. They can also be cumbersome when trying to apply them to a precise area, and they tend to lose their stickiness before they’re supposed to come off.

But where does an ultrasound come in?

When an ultrasound probe is applied to an adhesive hydrogel on the skin, it encourages microbubbles to form, thus making the adhesion stickier. The research team found that by changing the ultrasonic intensity, precision application control was possible.

Working in collaboration with physicists Professor Outi Supponen and Claire Bourquard from the Institute of Fluid Dynamics at ETH Zurich, Supponen commented: “The ultrasound induces many microbubbles, which transiently push the adhesives into the skin for stronger bio adhesion. We can even use theoretical modelling to estimate exactly where the adhesion will happen.”

The research suggests that the adhesives are compatible with living tissue, and they can potentially be used to deliver drugs through the skin.

Professor Zu-hua Gao from the University of British Columbia said: “This paradigm-shifting technology will have great implications in many branches of medicine.

“We’re very excited to translate this technology for application in clinics for tissue repair, cancer therapy, and precision medicine.”

Tissue adhesives play a role in wound management, but there is difficulty in tailoring the strength and reversibility of the adhesives for the desired purpose, and to ensure that it remains in place for the required length of time, whilst still maintaining permeability. The application of ultrasound technology also negates the need for chemical bonding to reach the desired result.

Bio adhesion is an important application in the fields of medicine and engineering, but until now it had been difficult to control. However, with this latest this advancement, the use of ultrasound technology is certainly making waves in more ways than one.

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