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SWEET TREATMENT

A cotton candy machine could be used to help heal human tissue

This article is more than 2 years old.

Don’t eat this “cotton candy.”

Labs at Vanderbilt University and Harvard University, working with the National Science Foundation, are spinning cotton candy-like fibers for doctors and the military. Instead of sugar, researchers pour polymers into a cotton candy machine to make a heap of wispy strands. One research team is experimenting with combining the polymer fibers with hydrogel, which is a substance placed on wounds to keep them moist and help them heal. When the fibers dissolve into the hydrogel, they leave behind a tiny network of channels that resemble human capillaries. When this hydrogel is put on a wound, blood and nutrients can flow through the channels, making it easier for the tissue to heal.

Additionally, scientists are looking into weaving the fibers into lighter bulletproof vests for soldiers.

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