A UK-USA research team has been working to improve the treatment of cleft palates using hydrogels. The polymer gradually expands as fluid is absorbed, encouraging skin growth. When sufficient skin has grown, the plate is removed and the cleft repaired using the additional tissue.
A time-resolved monitoring technique has been used by UK researchers to measure, and in turn control, the mechanical deformation of polymers. The findings could eventually lead to more durable artificial heart valves.