Different formulations of poly(lactic-co-glycolic acid), or PLGA, were tested to find one that would work in the airbrush. A specific molecular-weight PLGA combined with an acetone-based solvent allowed researchers to produce mats with fibers in diameters measuring approximately 370 nm.
The acetone evaporates before the nanofibers are deposited, suggesting that the solvent won't pose toxicity problems.
In addition to sealing the incisions, the mats were also used to seal diaphragm hernias.
Cells sprayed with the PLGA nanofibers showed no change in health after 24 hours. In lab tests, the nanofiber mats degraded completely over a 42-day period, report researchers in a paper published in ACS Macro Letters.
Polymer nanofiber mats show potential not only in surgical applications but also as biodegradable, drug-releasing implants or as scaffolds for tissue engineering, says Peter Kofinas, a bioengineer at the University of Maryland, College Park. His group currently is doing safety studies and improving the materials for surgical trials in laboratory animals.