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Nonwoven Fabrics in Healthcare and Medical Devices

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1 Dec 2011

On 17 November at SCI HQ, Professor Subhash Anand, from the University of Bolton, presented a Public Evening Lecture on Nonwoven Fabrics in Healthcare and Medical Devices, where he reminded us that 'life often hangs by a thread'.

As former MP for Bolton, SCI Trustee Dr Brian Iddon remarked in his closing speech, 'Professor Anand took us from technical textiles to synthetic biology'. Professor Anand started by painting a financial picture of the world market for nonwoven fabrics, which in 2009 was estimated to be worth US$22.4bn, with a 2.67kg per capita annual consumption in Europe. 'Nonwoven fabrics are used in everyday life without us knowing or seeing them, as they are often hidden from view,' he explained.

He also presented uses of textile materials and products designed for use in healthcare and medical devices, a global market valued at over US$100bn, which includes non-implantable materials, implantable materials, extracorporeal devices, and healthcare and hygiene materials.

He discussed the uses of nonwoven textiles in everyday materials such as nappies and talked the audience through the construction of one of these, including different layers of nonwoven textiles and absorbent polymers that make them absorbent, strong, elastic, cost-effective and comfortable for the user. He also presented an Aquacel wound dressing in whose design he was involved, and disposable and biodegradable uniforms for fast-food chains, which are under development.

From this technical explanations, he moved on to techniques used to produce scaffolding materials which can then be engineered to host a patient's cells. These can then reproduce using this scaffold to recreate a working organ that can then be implanted without risk of rejection, being the patient's own tissue.

The possibilities of using one's own DNA to generate replacement organs both excited and concerned the audience, and the ethical implications of such technology were discussed in the Q&A session following Professor Anand's presentation.

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