Biomedical engineers said they have created a new wound dressing that contracts in response to body heat, is stretchy, adhesive, antimicrobial and helps to speed healing. 

The material, called active adhesive dressing, closes wounds “significantly faster” than other commonly used materials and prevents bacterial growth without the need for additional apparatus, the engineers reported.

In animal tests, the dressing bonded to skin with 10 times the adhesive force of a Band-Aid. It also closed wounds faster than treatments including microgels, chitosan, gelatin, and other types of hydrogels. It was not found to cause inflammation or immune responses.

The new technology was inspired by developing embryos, whose skin is able to heal itself completely, without forming scar tissue, the dressing’s creators said. “This technology has the potential to be used not only for skin injuries, but also for chronic wounds like diabetic ulcers and pressure sores, for drug delivery, and as components of soft robotics-based therapies,” said lead researcher David Mooney, Ph.D., of Harvard University in a statement.

His team plans to study the dressing’s potential as a medical product, with an eye toward commercialization.

Full findings appear in Science Advances.