New gel can restore damaged soft tissue

August 2nd, 2011 - 2:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 2 (IANS) A new gel can now potentially restore damaged soft tissue safely and durably.

The material, a composite of biological and synthetic molecules, is injected under the skin, then “set” using light to form a more solid structure - like using cold to set gelatin in a mould.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US said the gel, developed after human and mice experiments, could be used to reconstruct soldier’s faces marred by blast injuries, the journal Science Translational Medicine reports.

Hopkins researchers caution that though the gel is “promising”, it is not yet ready for widespread clinical use, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.

“Implanted biological materials can mimic the texture of soft tissue but are usually broken down by the body too fast, while synthetic materials tend to be more permanent but can be rejected by the immune system,” said Jennifer Elisseeff, who led the study.

“Our composite material has the best of both worlds, with the biological component enhancing compatibility with the body and the synthetic component contributing to durability,” added Elisseeff, professor of ophthalmology at the Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Researchers created the composite material from hyaluronic acid, a natural skin component in young people that confers elasticity, and polyethylene glycol, used successfully as surgical glue in operations and known not to cause severe immune reactions.

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