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SCOBY Skin: a probiotic-induced bioengineered microbial-based textile adhesive for wound healing

Project by Polygence alum Vibha

SCOBY Skin: a probiotic-induced bioengineered microbial-based textile adhesive for wound healing

Project's result

The project scope was to create a biodegradable bandage. The spotlighted pieces of this project include SCOBY, a biodegradable, flexible textile material, and a natural wound healing paste, made from aloe vera gel, coconut oil, and olive oil. The bandage is composed of a compostable fruit bag, cut and attached used as sanitary packaging. Next, the SCOBY layered over the hygienic film. Then, 100% cotton gauze was adhered to the flexible, sticky surface of the textile using biodegradable tape. Finally, the wound healing paste was lined along the gauze. This created SCOBY Skin, safe for the skin and safe for the environment.

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Summary

Wound healing is the reparative and restorative process that dermal tissue undergoes after an injury or infection. The successive stages involved include coagulation, which is the process of blood cells clotting together into a semi-solid state to prevent excessive bleeding; inflammation, which is when the body reacts to the injury by becoming swollen and painful; resolution of inflammation, which occurs when the reddened and inflamed area abates,;and finally, remodeling, which is when the injury heals and forms a layer of skin on top. During this process, it is essential to prevent the introduction of pathogens during any of the healing phases so that tissue regeneration of the wound is accomplished in a timely manner. As a result, wound dressing materials are crucial. However, with the global move towards sustainability and reduced reliance on fossil fuels an issue that arises is that there are few wound healing options available on the market that are fully biodegradable, adjustable, attractive, or implement the healing powers of an ointment made from natural ingredients for effective reduction of inflammation and improved recovery time. 

Therefore, this research examines the development of a microbial-based textile layer made from symbiotic cultures of bacterial yeast (“SCOBY”) and the addition of a plant-based healing ointment made from olive oil, aloe vera gel, and coconut oil as a sustainable and biodegradable wound based alternative.  SCOBY is also known as “tea fungus” since it is a probiotic bacteria that is grown by adding its culture to brewed tea. After some time, a thin culture is created that is a strong and flexible leather-like base made to hold the product and the plant-based healing ointment together, and is fully biodegradable. In this paper the SCOBY based material is referred to as “SCOBY Skin.” A 1.75 inch by 4 inch flexible bandage, lined with soft gauze, and natural ingredients known to benefit wound healing. Plastic was eliminated from this device because microplastics can harm the area of injury by entering the skin tissue. After use, and upon disposal, plastic harms the planet due to the fact that they are not biodegradable. Based on the findings of this research, SCOBY Skin proves to be a suitable alternative to conventional bandages.

Cheldina

Cheldina

Polygence mentor

PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Subjects

Biology, Social Science, Engineering

Expertise

engineering design loop, water purification technology, sustainable design, green chemistry, 3D printing, environmental justice

Review of mentor

Cheldina was extremely helpful in guiding me through the completion of this project. She has helped me with ideating solutions, the writing the research paper, and researching on how to broaden my findings.

Vibha

Vibha

Student

School

Cupertino Middle School

Graduation Year

2026

Project review

Aspects that exceeded my expectations included how supportive my matched mentor is, the help/guides I get from this platform (ex. the research paper outlines etc.), and the easy-to-use interface!