UNL textiles scholar Yiqi Yang has partnered with researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop a novel mesh that will reduce complications associated with hernia repair surgeries.
"This project is a good combination of expertise," said Yang, Charles Bessey Professor of Textiles, Merchandising and Fashion Design, and professor of biological systems engineering. "I've talked possible ideas with other researchers at UNMC in the past, but this is the first to get support."
In hernia surgeries, the mesh is used to provide support or replace the abdominal wall at the site of the hernia. The research project aims to reduce problems that result from mesh being used in the repairs, such as tissue adhesion, infection, mesh erosion, rejection, migration and local discomfort.
The project’s goal is to develop novel polymers that will be used to coat non-biodegradable hernia meshes. The polymers will be infused with drugs that will be slowly released over time, reducing the complications — particularly adhesion and infection — associated with hernia meshes.
The project, led by David Oupicky, professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UNMC, is funded through a $100,000 grant from the University of Nebraska's Nebraska Research Initiative. Joining Oupicky and Yang in the research is Mark Carlson, professor of surgery at UNMC.
Oupicky will work on developing the drug delivery system, while Carlson is the surgical expert with knowledge of how the mesh works and can be placed within a body. Yang will craft the actual mesh structure.
Yang's research is focused on using green materials, including polymers and chemicals for textile, composite and medical applications. He is also one of a few professors who have extensive experience in fiber and textile processes and has close relationships in the fiber and textile industries.
In a recent collaboration, Yang worked with colleagues at Donghua University in Shanghai, China, and UNL to research using proteins to create ultrafine three-dimensional fibrous matrices for soft tissue repair.
He has also developed methods to convert cornhusks into fabric and chicken feathers into biodegradable plastics.
Yang said the two-year NRI grant is helping launch the project and can lead to larger grant applications from national funding agencies.
"One of the main criteria for this grant is the potential for receiving bigger grants in the future," Yang said. "This is one of those cross-campus proposals with excellent potential.
"I look forward to working with colleagues from UNMC and using my expertise in fabrication to further the project."