Medical advances continue to push the boundaries of what we thought was possible, but who would have ever thought they would be able to improve on the humble bandage?
But, apparently, they just did.
Researchers have designed a ‘smart’ bandage that is much more effective and faster-acting than regular healing patches.
The bandage can even be loaded with medications depending on the wound it is applied to, which it can release at the relevant times during healing.
The idea for the new bandage originated while looking for ways to treat chronic wounds.
Chronic wounds – including venous ulcers, diabetic ulcers, and pressure ulcers – are particularly challenging to treat. They do not heal after the standard four weeks of care, because the body does not release the compounds that are essential to healing in a timely fashion.
The ‘smart’ bandage addresses this problem, by administering different drugs at different stages in the progression of the wound.
The smart healing patch is the size of a postage stamp, made up of electrically conductive fibres, and can be controlled remotely with a smartphone or another wireless or Bluetooth device.
The fibres are coated with a water-based gel that can be loaded with various drugs, depending on the needs of the wound.
Antibiotics, alongside so-called growth factors that help the tissue to regenerate, and painkillers could all be alternately administered using the same ‘e-bandage’.
In one of the experiments conducted with the smart healing patch, researchers applied the e-bandage loaded with a tissue-growth factor to wounded mice, and a normal ‘dry’ bandage to a control group of mice.
The experiment showed that the smart bandage helped the mice to regrow three times more tissue than the control group did. Tissue regeneration is a key step in the healing process.
In another experiment, the team loaded the bandage with an antibiotic and it successfully fought off an infection.
The researchers hope that the first application of their device will be to heal the chronic ulcers that result from diabetes.
Read more about the smart bandage.