Silk Sponges to Help the Soft Tissues in the Body Heal

Soft tissue loss and damage associated with trauma and disease present a significant healthcare burden worldwide. These are often complex wounds with damage to a number of tissue types, including muscle, skin, and neural tissues, and require biomaterial platforms with highly tunable physical features to accommodate the complex tissue defect. Silk protein has emerged as a promising and versatile natural polymer for the development of biomaterial systems, and regenerated silk is a cell-compatible, biodegradable protein that can be engineered into a range of material formats, including porous scaffolds and sponges, hydrogels, films, fibers, and microspheres. Researchers from Tufts University have developed silk sponges that act as a placeholder while the body heals itself, eventually degrading away when the tissue can hold together on its own. The team has created a process that allows the sponges to last as long as needed.