Intelligent bandages glow with infection

photo credit: Intelligent hydrogel wound dressing by University of Bath, via American Chemical Society

photo credit: Intelligent hydrogel wound dressing by University of Bath, via American Chemical Society

Any time there is a break in our skin from a cut, or scrape, or other injury, there is the possibility of serious infection that can spread within the body to other tissues and organs and even become life-threatening.

To help reduce this risk, scientists have developed a prototype wound dressing that is able to detect the presence of bacteria in the crucial early hours of infection.

Bacteria that colonize wounds tend to  live in a biofilm, a slimy substance created by the bacteria themselves. If  there is biofilm present in a wound, the bandage will turn a bright fluorescent color.

The detection rate for biofilms from pathogenic, or harmful, strains was surprisingly fast. In lab tests, the bandage could reveal the presence of bacteria within four hours of infection, but for an established biofilm, the response was within minutes.

Unfortunately, the intelligent bandage has a long way to go before it will be available to help reduce infection in surgical and other wounds. There needs to be safety testing and a manufacturing plan. Researchers hlpe to conduct a clinical study in about three years.

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