Drug Releasing Medical Textiles


Textile fibers loaded with drugs are often used for biomedical applications. Woven and non-woven fabrics are widely used in medical applications due to their physical and structural properties specially as drug delivery systems in wound dressings, synthetic skin graft substitutes, scaffolds for tissue repair and other topical applications.

The market of medical textiles has a great potential as it was worth USD 13.94 billion in 2014 which constituted 10% of the technical textile market in Europe and was predicted to increase its share to about 12% in the near future (Reportbuyer, 2016).

Fibers from natural or synthetic sources can be manufactured using three main fiber production methods of melt spinning, wet spinning and electrospinning. Fibers, in the presence of suitable physical or chemical modifiers, can be loaded with bioactive agents or drugs. Therefore, produced fibers can be assembled into a 3D construct as woven or non-woven based on the final application. In addition, the release mechanism of the loaded fibers as drug delivery systems can be tuned. Furthermore, the kinetics of drug release can be modeled and predicted based on the phenomena that control the drug release rates.

As an example, the electrospinning method is the most promising method to fabricate nanofibrous scaffolds. Electrospun nanofibrous scaffolds consist of interconnected network with fibers in nanometer range. Both natural and synthetic polymers can be fabricated or combined using this method. The drugs with different concentrations can be introduced into the matrix of the fibers before or after spinning.

A relatively new area of research is smart textiles, which integrate electronic sensors to trigger drug release when needed. They provide easier monitoring and analyses of data only by linking it into electronic devices or even smart phones. For instance, nanofibrous meshes have been fabricated in which thermoresponsive drug nanocarriers were embedded into elastic nanofibrous meshes with integrated flexible heaters for on-demand drug delivery.

To sum up, designing and fabricating the advanced biomaterials with tunable physical and chemical properties capable of a controlled delivery of different biomolecules is a challenging aspect in biomedical science. Drug eluting fabrics as reliable drug delivery systems can fill this gap by offering a wide range of designing parameters including materials, processing, loading methods and post treatments.



Matin Rostamitabar

ESR4 - Maastricht University