US researchers have developed a novel smart bandage with biosensors that can help heal chronic wounds like diabetic ulcers and burns.
Most of the time, when someone gets a cut, scrape, burn or other wounds, the body takes care of itself and heals on its own.
But diabetes can interfere with the healing process and create wounds that will not go away and that could become infected and fester.
The smart bandage developed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) may make treatment of these wounds easier, more effective and less expensive.
"There are many different types of chronic wounds, especially in diabetic ulcers and burns that last a long time and cause huge issues for the patient," Wei Gao, Assistant Professor of medical engineering, at Caltech said.
"There is a demand for technology that can facilitate recovery," Gao said.
Unlike a typical bandage, which might only consist of layers of absorbent material, the smart bandages are made from a flexible and stretchy polymer containing embedded electronics and medication.
The electronics allow the sensor to monitor for molecules like uric acid or lactate and conditions like pH level or temperature in the wound that may be indicative of inflammation or bacterial infection.
The bandage can transmit the gathered data from the wound wirelessly to a nearby computer, tablet, or smartphone for review by the patient or a medical professional.
It can deliver an antibiotic or other medication stored within the bandage directly to the wound site to treat the inflammation and infection.
It can also apply a low-level electrical field to the wound to stimulate tissue growth resulting in faster healing, the researchers said, in the paper described in the journal Science Advances.
The team tested the bandage in animal models under laboratory conditions. The smart bandages showed the ability to provide real-time updates about wound conditions and the animals' metabolic states to researchers, as well as offer speed healing of chronic infected wounds similar to those found in humans
Gao said the results are promising, adding that future research will focus on improving the bandage technology and testing it on human patients.