The days of simply wrapping up a bloodied cut may be over as engineers have developed a game-changing bandage that doesn’t just cover wounds, but heals them.
The ground-breaking smart bandage even monitors the condition of wounds and then helps them heal by pumping antibiotics into them.
The high-tech plaster has sensors that monitors the change in Ph in wounds which indicates whether it is healing or not.
Professor Sameer Sonkusale from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts said the aim was to change the way we see bandaging.
The co-author said: “ This prototype is aimed at transforming bandaging from a traditionally passive treatment into a more active paradigm to address a persistent and difficult medical challenge.”
He added that chronic skin wounds from burns, diabetes, and other medical conditions can overwhelm the regenerative capabilities of the skin and often lead to persistent infections and amputations.
The new bandage would work alongside the body’s natural healing process using ‘heating elements and thermoresponsive drug carriers’ that can deliver tailored treatments that track infection and inflammation.
The study found non-healing chronic wounds are a significant medical problem that their smart bandage could help solve.
The bandage is made using ‘flexible electronics’, technology mounted on thin sheets of plastic that can bend with the bandage.
Prof Sonkusale said: “Flexible electronics have made many wearable medical devices possible, but bandages have changed little since the beginnings of medicine.
“We are simply applying modern technology to an ancient art in the hopes of improving outcomes for an intractable problem.”
The pH of a chronic wound is one of the key parameters for monitoring its progress.
Normal healing wounds fall within the range of pH 5.5 to 6.5, whereas non-healing infected wounds can have pH well above 6.5.
Temperature is also an important parameter, providing information on the level of inflammation in and around the wound.
The smart bandages combine both pH and temperature sensors while Prof Sonkusale and his team of engineers have also developed flexible sensors for oxygenation. This can be integrated into the bandage.
Inflammation could also be tracked not just by heat, but by specific biomarkers as well.
A microprocessor reads the data from the sensors on the bandage and can release drug on demand from its carriers by heating the gel.
The entire construct is attached to a transparent medical tape to form a flexible bandage less than 3 mm thick.
Components were selected to keep the bandage low cost and disposable, except for the microprocessor, which can be reused.
The smart bandages have been created and tested successfully under test tube conditions.
Pre-clinical studies are now underway to determine their clinical advantages in testing on living beings against the traditional bandage for contect.
Prof Sonkusale concluded: “The smart bandage we created, with pH and temperature sensors and antibiotic drug delivery, is really a prototype for a wide range of possibilities.
Last year clinical trials got underway on smart bandages which change colour when a wound becomes infected.