Dr. Song Liu
BY JOEL SCHLESINGER
Winnipeg Health Region
Wave, November / December 2012
Dr. Song Liu wants to make that old saying
"like ripping off a bandage" a phrase of the
Liu isn't a medical doctor. He is a textile
engineer and an assistant professor who has
established the University of Manitoba's
Medical Textile Surface Engineering
Laboratory in its Department of Textile
Sciences at the Faculty of Human Ecology.
And he is developing a better bandage to
be used for burn victims and other patients
suffering from painful wounds that are
susceptible to infections.
Studies show the pain caused by removing
burn dressings is related to severe depression
and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
So Liu has engineered a new kind of polyester
bandage that has hydrogel - a moisturizing
compound - chemically bonded to its fibres to
prevent it from sticking to the wound.
"Hydrogel isn't new, but the major
innovation here is I can grow hydrogel with
well-controlled thickness from the fibres of
flexible knit fabrics to retain the flexibility of
the dressing. A good dressing must be flexible
to conform to the contour of the body," he
Liu has proven the bandage is effective in
the lab, and the next step is to demonstrate
its effectiveness in animal tests. If successful,
the bandage could be used in hospitals, burn
wards and wound clinics treating people with
diabetes who have hard-to-heal skin ulcers.
Liu says what makes the dressing unique is the
infusion of two known antimicrobial agents -
N-chloramine, used in swimming pools, and
quaternary ammonium salt, found in hand
soaps. But he says his work extends beyond
bandages. In fact, his broader ambition is
making hospitals less prone to spreading
infection, one surface at a time.
Using similar innovative chemical
engineering techniques, he aims to infuse
antimicrobial properties into just about every
surface in a hospital setting, from privacy
curtains to countertops.
At the same time, he says he is also working
on developing more biocompatible synthetic
materials for vascular grafting - used in
surgeries like cardiac bypasses - which will
last longer, lead to less scarring and reduce the
risk of rejection.
Back to "Leading the way"
Wave is published six times a year by the Winnipeg Health Region in cooperation with the Winnipeg Free Press. It is available at newsstands, hospitals and clinics throughout Winnipeg, as well as McNally Robinson Books.
Read the November / December 2012 issue of Wave