Smart bandage able to detect infection

smart-bandageLast year I looked at an innovative new bandage from researchers at University of California, Berkeley, that uses electrical currents to detect tissue damage before it is visible to the human eye.

Researchers in the UK have come up with a similar product that was unveiled recently.  The bandage is capable of turning a different color when it detects the onset of infection, thus providing medics with an early warning of problems afoot.

Smart bandages

The product, which was documented in a recently published paper, turns bright green when the gel like material within the dressing detects bacteria.

The gel contains tiny capsules that are designed to release a fluorescent dye when it comes into contact with bacteria.

The product is still at a very early stage and has yet to be tested on humans, but the researchers are confident that it can prove incredibly valuable to the healthcare industry.

They see particular value in potentially reducing the dependence on antibiotics for the treatment of things such as burn wounds.  It’s common for antibiotics to be oveprescribed due to the concern about infection, which has the inevitable side effect of building immunity.

Fighting infection off at the pass

It’s inevitable that bacteria will colonize a wound to a certain extent, but when this grows out of control it can be incredibly harmful to the patient.  It can often be hours before any visible sign emerges, so a means of early detection can be crucial.

The researchers believe that the formation of biofilm is a key marker of potential infection.  Biofilm is when a layer of microbes form in the bacteria to fight off the immune system.

When a particular tipping point is reached, this film turns on the production of toxins.

The bandage works by mimicking aspects of the cell membrane, with the toxins then puncturing the cells, just as they would cells in the body.  This puncturing releases a dye that glows green when it’s diluted by the surrounding gel.

The next step is to test the product out in wound swabs, and if all goes well, they hope to begin clinical testing sometime in 2018.  Check out the video below for more information on the product.

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3 thoughts on “Smart bandage able to detect infection

  1. I think this is a great idea, but it has to somehow find its way the regulatory and beaurocratic jungle of modern healthcare before patients begin to see any benefit from it 🙁

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