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New Adhesive Technology Prevents Lesions, Scarring

A new bandage technology developed by MIT researchers peels off easily, preventing skin irritation and scarring. (Image by Bryan Laulicht)

Lacking an epidermis, infants can suffer skin irritation and scarring when a bandage is removed. And with fragile skin, the elderly can also be injured by common bandages. Coming to the rescue is a team of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT; Cambridge), who have developed a new medical tape that incorporates a third layer sandwiched between the adhesive side of the bandage and the backing. This quick-release middle layer allows easy removal of the backing without removing skin.

Consisting of Jeffrey Karp, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and codirector of the Center for Regenerative Therapeutics at Brigham and Women's Hospital; Bryan Laulicht, a postdoc at MIT's Institute for Medical Engineering and Science; and MIT Institute professor Robert Langer, the team has developed a wound-care technology that incorporates existing adhesive and backing materials, ensuring that it is strong and sticky. While standard medical tape backing is made from a thin sheet of polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the new middle layer features a thin silicone layer coated on the side that contacts the adhesive, forming a release liner. This liner is similar to the strips of slick paper that are peeled off of bandages before use.

Discovering that this layer did not adhere well to the skin, the researchers etched grid lines into the silicone with a laser, exposing some of the PET backing. Because this backing adheres to the adhesive layer more strongly than the liner, the researchers can control the adhesiveness of the release liner by altering how much of the PET is revealed by the grid lines.

Because the adhesive and the backing are made from materials already used in medical tapes, the researchers believe that ramping up production of the new tape should be straightforward.

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