“As a bioactive substance, I used betulin, which is extracted from birch bark. This is already used in cosmetics, medicine, and supplements. To increase impact and improve effectiveness, I embedded betulin from electrospinning into the solution used to make nanofibers,” explained Vilcēna to LTV's Rīta Panorāma news show.
After this, she turns the nanofibers into a mask. Betulin is environmentally friendly and a by-product of plywood manufacturing. The new methods used in making face masks offer higher effectiveness than the cosmetics products currently in use.
“A person’s skin cells are on a micro level. Nanofibers are even smaller, therefore they can penetrate the layers of the skin and work much more efficiently than traditional creams,” she adds.
Nanotechnology and electrospinning products are new materials which are finding wider and wider uses worldwide in different industries. Demand in cosmetics and medicine will be even greater in the future. Vilcēna is also researching the use of betulin in medicine, for example, its use as a wound dressing.
Potential for medical use
“If clinical trials are developed on a wider scale, this material could also be used as a transdermal drug delivery system, or to put it simply, different medicines could be taken by spreading them on the skin, rather than in the form of a tablet,” she continues. This could, for example, help to heal chronically non-healing wounds. The research also suggests that betulin could strengthen people’s immunity and help treat melanomas.
Vilcēna is developing the product with the support of the RTU Student Innovation Grant Program.