Chronic skin wounds pose tough challenges, they are not only difficult to treat, but in the majority of cases, the patients use more antibiotics than needed. Now, the scientists at Massachusetts Tufts University have developed a prototype smart bandage that monitors and medicates chronic wounds in real time only when needed. Chronic skin wounds that arise from burns, diabetes is a constraint for natural healing of the skin and often lead to infections and amputations. The new smart bandage aimed to assist the natural healing is packed with pH, temperature and other sensors that track infections and inflammation. It is coupled with the microprocessor which activates the heating elements and in turn activates the thermoresponsive drug carriers that deliver the drug to the infection.
What are the sensors featured in a Smart bandage?
The smart bandage features three major sensors; pH sensor, temperature sensor and oxygenation sensor, apart from other sensors.
pH sensor: pH is an important parameter to monitor the progress of chronic wounds. In normal wounds, the pH falls anywhere between 6.5 to 7.5. But in the case of non-healing chronic wounds pH is well above 6.5.
Temperature sensor: Temperature offers critical information and detects the heat associated in and around the inflammation.
Oxygenation sensors: Flexible sensors of oxygenation are another indicator of the healing mechanism.
Furthermore, there is an integrated microprocessor that continuously analyses the data received from the sensors. If it detects the wound/ infection, then it temporarily activates the heating elements in the bandage. The process initiates a cascade and releases the drug on demand from its carriers by heating the gel. All these flexible electronic components fit astonishingly in just 3mm thick bandage. Moreover, the components are disposable except for the microprocessor which can be disinfected and reused.
The team of scientists have successfully tested the smart bandage under in-vitro conditions. Now the onus is to carry out testing of the smart bandage in vivo pre-clinical studies to study the advantages in comparison to traditional bandages and other wound care products.
The Research work is published in the Journal Small.