Advancing the Science of Wound Care

Prototype Device Can Monitor Healing and Deliver Treatment

An engineering team at Tufts University reports that it has developed a new “smart” bandage that can actively monitor the condition of chronic wounds and trigger the delivery of medication when required to advance healing. The prototype may open new avenues to the availability of bandaging that plays an active role in wound care, according to the authors who reported their work earlier this week in the journal Small. The bandage monitors pH levels and temperature of the wound, and contains thermoresponsive drug carriers that can be triggered by heating elements. The device has so far been tested successfully under in vitro conditions, and preclinical trials are planned to determine its efficacy in vivo, as compared to conventional bandages and other products for wound care.

Chronic wounds that become infected or inflamed are a significant medical problem estimated to affect up to 15% of Medicare beneficiaries and add some $28 billion to the cost of their care. The smart bandage can sense the elevated pH level of a nonhealing infected wound, as well as the elevated temperature that accompanies inflammation. It can then activate a heating element that releases medication contained in the device. Coauthor Sameer Sonkusale, PhD, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Tuft University’s School of Engineering, commented, “…flexible electronics have made many wearable medical devices possible, but bandages have changed little since the beginnings of medicine. We are simply applying modern technology to an ancient art in the hopes of improving outcomes for an intractable problem.” The incorporation of sensing for oxygenation and specific biomarkers for inflammation may also be feasible, according to the report.

Read about the invention and next developmental steps.

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