Tufts University engineers developed a bandage that monitors chronic wounds and then delivers treatment to improve chances of healing.
The bandage would be a great approach in wounds from burns, diabetes or other medical conditions that don’t allow the skin to regenerate. It will eliminate issues like infection and amputations.
The bandages contain healing elements and a thermoresponsive drug which can deliver treatments when it gets information from temperature sensors which can track infection and inflammation.
The sensors will monitor critical parameters to find if the wound is healing. It can read the pH of chronic wounds to find out if the wound heals correctly. Usually, a wound that heals correctly has a pH of 5.5 – 6.5. An infected wound has a pH above 6.5.
Temperature also shows information on the level of inflammation inside and around the wound.
The bandage has a microprocessor which reads the data from the sensor. Then, it releases drugs by heating a gel. The whole ‘smart bandage’ can be attacked to the skin with a transparent and flexible medical tape of a three mm thickness.
A Bandage That Can Treat Different Conditions
The corresponding co-author of the study, Sameer Sonkusale, Ph.D., and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering, explains the stage of their invention:
“The smart bandage we created, with pH and temperature sensors and antibiotic drug delivery, is really a prototype for a wide range of possibilities. One can imagine embedding other sensing components, drugs, and growth factors that treat different conditions in response to different healing markers.”
Sonkusale explains that the bandages should also improve, as they haven’t seen major changes since the beginnings of medicine. With the development of flexible electronics, bandages should also be reinvented:
“We are simply applying modern technology to an ancient art in the hopes of improving outcomes for an intractable problem.”
The researchers have tested their invention in vitro conditions but will have to see if they work in pre-clinical studies, which are now underway. They will be compared to traditional bandages and wound care products to analyze how much better they are in facilitating healing of chronic wounds.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.