New ‘smart’ bandages can monitor and medicate chronic wounds

The bandage comes with a wide array of electronic and medical features. 
Mrigakshi Dixit
Smart bandage.
Smart bandage.

Lance Hayashida/Caltech 

Scientists have created a “smart bandage,” which can be used to treat and monitor wounds. This tiny gadget is particularly beneficial for people with diabetes. 

The bandage has been developed by scientists at the California Institute of Technology and has been specifically designed to make the treatment of chronic wounds 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. There is a demand for technology that can facilitate recovery,” said Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering at Heritage Medical Research Institute, in a statement.

Smart bandage application

The bandage is one-of-a-kind due to its technological capabilities and comes with a wide array of electronic and medical features. 

It is made of flexible and stretchy polymer embedded with electronic chips, biosensors, and a layer of medication. Normally, everyday bandages have absorbent material layers. But this bandage helps to monitor uric acid levels. It sends out alerts when the pH or temperature of the wound changes. The bandage can also tell whether there is any inflammation or bacterial infection in the wound.

The official statement highlights that this newly designed bandage can perform three primary functions.

First, it wirelessly transmits data from the wound to nearby smart gadgets, like computers, tablets, or smartphones. This data can easily be reviewed later by the patient or doctor. 

Second, it can “deliver an antibiotic or other medication stored within the bandage directly to the wound site to treat the inflammation and infection.”

And lastly, it can provide a low-voltage electrical current to the wound site. This will help to regrow tissue and enable faster healing.

"We have shown this proof of concept in small animal models, but down the road, we would like to increase the stability of the device but also to test it on larger chronic wounds because the wound parameters and microenvironment may vary from site to site," said Gao.

The study is published in the journal Science Advances.

Study abstract:

Chronic nonhealing wounds are one of the major and rapidly growing clinical complications all over the world. Current therapies frequently require emergent surgical interventions, while abuse and misapplication of therapeutic drugs often lead to an increased morbidity and mortality rate. Here, we introduce a wearable bioelectronic system that wirelessly and continuously monitors the physiological conditions of the wound bed via a custom-developed multiplexed multimodal electrochemical biosensor array and performs noninvasive combination therapy through controlled anti-inflammatory antimicrobial treatment and electrically stimulated tissue regeneration. The wearable patch is fully biocompatible, mechanically flexible, stretchable, and can conformally adhere to the skin wound throughout the entire healing process. Real-time metabolic and inflammatory monitoring in a series of preclinical in vivo experiments showed high accuracy and electrochemical stability of the wearable patch for multiplexed spatial and temporal wound biomarker analysis. The combination therapy enabled substantially accelerated cutaneous chronic wound healing in a rodent model.

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