UBC researchers are part of an international collaboration that has discovered how to control the stickiness of adhesive bandages using ultrasound waves and bubbles.

Hydrogel adhesive bandage applied on skin. Credit: Zhenwei Ma

The breakthrough findings, published in the journal Science, could lead to new advances in medical adhesives, especially in cases where adhesives are difficult to apply such as on wet skin.

“œWe were surprised to find that by simply playing around with ultrasonic intensity, we can control very precisely the stickiness of adhesive bandages on many tissues,” says lead author Dr. Zhenwei Ma, a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow at UBC.

“œBandages, glues, and stickers are common bioadhesives that are used at home or in clinics. However, they don”™t usually adhere well on wet skin. It”™s also challenging to control where they are applied and the strength and duration of the formed adhesion,” says senior author Dr. Jianyu Li, a professor at McGill University.

** Ultrasound induced bubbles control stickiness **

In collaboration with physicists Dr. Outi Supponen and Dr. Claire Bourquard from the Institute of Fluid Dynamics at ETH Zurich, the team experimented with ultrasound induced microbubbles to make adhesives stickier.

“This paradigm-shifting technology will have great implications in many branches of medicine.” *Dr. Zu-hua Gao*

“œThe ultrasound induces many microbubbles, which transiently push the adhesives into the skin for stronger bioadhesion,” says Dr. Supponen. “œWe can even use theoretical modeling to estimate exactly where the adhesion will happen.”

Dr. Zhenwei Ma

The study shows that the adhesives are compatible with living tissue in animal models. The adhesives can also potentially be used to deliver drugs through the skin.

“œThis paradigm-shifting technology will have great implications in many branches of medicine,” says Dr. Zu-hua Gao, professor and head of the department of pathology and laboratory medicine at UBC. “œWe”™re very excited to translate this technology for applications in clinics for tissue repair, cancer therapy, and precision medicine.”

“œBy merging mechanics, materials and biomedical engineering, we envision the broad impact of our bioadhesive technology in wearable devices, wound management, and regenerative medicine,” says Professor Li, who is also a Canada Research Chair in Biomaterials and Musculoskeletal Health.

A version of this story originally appeared on the McGill University website.


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