New skin must be grown from the patient's own skin cells, a lengthy process that could lead to dehydration and infection. Scientists discovered that polymeric material, which is renowned for its extensive range of properties and found in plastics, biopolymers and proteins, can be used to grow and multiply human cells but with inefficient results.
Enter the MODPLEUV project, which brought together Austrian, Czech and Polish researchers to successfully develop a novel yet easy way to create nano-structured materials that would facilitate human cell development. MODPLEUV is supported by EUREKA, the European platform for research and development (R&D).
'About 10 years ago, scientists discovered the important influence that nanostructures had on the way a line of cells would develop,' explained Professor Johannes Heitz from the University of Linz, the coordinator of MODPOLEUV. 'It was the beginning of an entire new scientific field, somewhere between medicine and nanotechnology.'
The Poland-based Military University of Technology of Warsaw led the development of the new laser-brand technology, called EUV (extreme ultraviolet), which was to create nano-structured polymer surfaces. REFLEX of the Czech Republic developed a mirror that formed a beam of EUV light, directed on a surface that enables new polymeric materials to be created.
Thanks to this innovative technique, researchers can ensure a very high degree of precision, from 10 to 20 nanometres. The best traditional techniques can give is a precision level of 100 nanometres.