Medical Textiles: a new horizon to explore
Increasingly intimate combination of Textile Technology and Medical Sciences has made “Medical Textiles” an emerging multidisciplinary field with tremendous potential.
Medical Textile products can be briefly summarized as follows:
(1) Non-implantable materials:
(a) Wound-dressing, related hydrogel and nonwoven/knitted/embroidery-based composite products
(b) Bandages: Simple, Light support, Compression, Orthopedic bandages
(2) Surgically implantable biotextile products:
(a) Vascular grafts (fabricated by knitting, nonwoven, electrospinning)
(b) Sutures (mono/multifilament, braided)
(c) Heart valves (knitting)
(3) Extra-corporeal materials (Tissue engineered products):
(a) Cartilage (nonwoven, 3D weaving)
(b) Skin (nonwoven, knitting, weaving)
(c) Liver (Rapid prototyping)
(d) Kidney, Urinary bladder (nonwoven, 3D weaving)
(e) Tendons, Ligaments (mono/multi-filaments, braiding)
(f) Cornea (Electrospinning, knitting, hydrogel-based composite)
(4) Healthcare and hygiene products:
(a) Surgical gowns, Masks, Wipes
(b) Specially designed bed sheets for critically ill patients
(c) Antibacterial, Antiviral Textiles
(d) Insecticidal textiles for controlling infectious diseases (smart mosquito net)
(d) Super absorbent polymers
(e) Dialysis membrane, Hernia mesh
(f) Adhesive, anti-adhesive patches for Post operative surgical application
(g) Soluble factor release (Drug, Hormone, Growth factor Delivery), Enzyme (Matrix metalloprotease, proteases etc) attachment on fibrous materials
(h) Stimuli-sensitive and injectable hydrogels, phage change materials
Major Challenges in the field of Medical Textiles:
(1) Clear understanding is critically needed about the structure-property relationship of novel textile products, so that precise simulation of mechanical parameters for specific clinical applications can be achieved.
(2) Tissue Engineering research:
(i) Development of efficient manufacturing processes for preparing novel polymeric Biomaterials, fibrous scaffolds;
(ii) detailed insight about targeted modulation of behavior of human cells with respect to architectural and chemical signals offered by textile and/or polymer-based materials.
(3) Scalable, cost-effective production under GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) conditions.
(4) Multidisciplinary cooperation: There is urgent need to encourage the formation of consortia that work on challenging topics (chronic wound management, low back pain, diabetic ulcers, joint trauma, arthritis, etc.), to improve interdisciplinary networking (among Textile & Polymer Technologists, Material Scientists, Chemical Engineers, Biotechnologist, Computational Biologists, Genetic Engineers, Biochemists, Clinicians, Pathologists and Industry). Ideal strategy should be to bring different groups into one specific area, rather than making one group mastering all fields.
(5) Translation into the clinical arena through controlled trial for applied biomedical applications.
Some related fields of research:
2. Electro-conductive polymeric fibres: for Tissue engineering of nerve, muscle, cardiac tissue, biosensors
3. Sterilization and surface modification of Medical textiles (e.g., by using photo-induced grafting, plasma grafting, chemical grafting, synthesizing biomimetic surface and self-assembly technology etc)
4. Nano- or micro-fabrication techniques, Rapid prototyping
5. Development of new instruments & methods for mechanical characterization
6. Finishing for Medical Textile products