Researchers at Stellenbosch University are convinced that a new wound dressing they have developed could revolutionise the treatment of burn victims.

The dressing releases antibacterial proteins and eventually becomes part of the new skin formed to cover the wound.

The researchers from the university’s microbiology department believe the nanofibre material will not only quicken the healing process but make it unnecessary to frequently change dressings, which is very painful.

The dressing, already being patented by leading pharmaceutical company Cipla Medpro locally and abroad for commercial use when the research is complete, stemmed from years of investigating antimicrobial peptides produced by lactic acid bacteria.

Scientists are so impressed with the wound dressing project that the team behind its development was nominated for the prestigious NSTF-BHP Billion Award for outstanding contributions to science, engineering, technology and innovation (Seti).

The awards, to be presented in Joburg later this month, acknowledge excellence in scientific research, capacity building and technological innovation, among other things.

Professor Leon Dicks, a lead researcher and one of the nominees, explained that the dressing, which is made of nanofibres or tiny spiderweb-like fibrous materials, was developed by incorporating the broad spectrum antimicrobial peptides (antibacterial protein) into the nanofibres.

He said the wound remained sterile and did not develop the secondary infections often associated with burn wounds which were sometimes resistant to antibiotics due to pathogens in the wound.

Dicks said the research, which was expected to take another 14 months, was also looking at other drugs, and the next step was to incorporate anti-inflammatory and tissue repairing drugs into the dressing. - Cape Argus