BALTIMORE, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Reserchers in Baltimore say they're developing a new composite material that may someday restore damaged soft body tissues.
The liquid material, a composite of biological and synthetic molecules, is injected under the skin and then "set" using light to form a more solid structure, a John Hopkins Medical Institutions release said Monday.
One possible use for the product could be reconstructing soldiers' faces disfigured by blast injuries, the researchers said.
The composite nature of the material helps the body accept it, they said.
"Implanted biological materials can mimic the texture of soft tissue, but are usually broken down by the body too fast, while synthetic materials tend to be more permanent but can be rejected by the immune system and typically don't meld well with surrounding natural tissue," researcher Jennifer Elisseeff said. "Our composite material has the best of both worlds, with the biological component enhancing compatibility with the body and the synthetic component contributing to durability."
The compound consists of hyaluronic acid, a natural component in skin that gives it elasticity, and polyethylene glycol, a synthetic molecule used successfully as surgical glue in operations and known not to cause severe immune reactions.
The researchers cautioned that although the material is "promising," it is not yet ready for widespread clinical use.
"We still have to evaluate the persistence and safety of our material in other types of human tissues, like muscle or less fatty regions under the skin of the face, so we can optimize it for specific procedures," Elisseeff said.