ISLAMABAD: Pakistani scientists have developed a nanoparticle that re-generates and heal burnt skin.
This development has been was achieved at Inter-disciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials (IRCBM) established at COMSATS Institute of Information Technology (CIIT).
Such particles have been developed before but what makes this different is exceptionally low cost. Not just price, the new skin-substitute also supports regeneration of blood vessels - a process called angiogenesis.
Most of the expensive products fail to do that and are even unstable under storage conditions. Still, being inferior, these products cost as much as Rs. 80,000 per four cm2 patch.
Dr Muhammad Yar, a leader of scientists that went on to develop this trailblazing technology has said this product has been successfully tested on egg shells and rat skin and it has the potential to vanquish previous products available in market.
The research has been published in Materials and Design journal. Higher Education Commission funded the research by granting Rs14 million under its Technology Development Fund.
The most challenging part of research was the development of an inexpensive but effective synthetic skin for burn patients. This was made possible by using indigenous materials, Dar Yar said.
After the hydrogel was prepared it was sprayed with zinc peroxide and zinc oxide. The nanoparticles of zinc peroxide and zinc oxide promote bioactivity while occupying a small area. Reason why zinc metal oxides were used is because zinc peroxide is affordable and widely used in manufacture of medicines. Zincoxide on other hand is a known antibacterial agent.
The hydrogel went through several biological and chemical tests. After clearing these tests, experiments were carried out on egg shells and rat skin.
"It has worked perfectly on standard animal models by healing wounds. The next step is to pass human trials," he said. The concluded results showed that the product greatly promoted angiogenesis activity nurturing generation of new blood vessels.
The team is looking for potential investors to make their product on a large scale.
Meanwhile, Dr Mustehsan Bashir, Head of Plastic and Burn Unit at Lahore's Mayo Hospital acknowledged the discovery and said the research has been published in a prestigious journal which is a proof in itself that the product is going to be the next big thing.
Under developed countries like Pakistan need this low-cost substitute as skin burns cause a lot of deaths every year. A 2016 report by World Health Organization (WHO) evaluated that around 265,000 deaths are caused by skin burns annually.