HomeTechnology"Smart" Bandages Monitor Wounds And Offer Targeted Treatment

“Smart” Bandages Monitor Wounds And Offer Targeted Treatment

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Caltech researchers have developed a new type of smart bandage that may make treating these wounds easier, more effective, and less expensive. Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering, Heritage Medical Research Institute Investigator, and Ronald and JoAnne Willens Scholar, developed these smart bandages in his lab.

“There are many different types of chronic wounds, especially diabetic ulcers and burns that last a long time and cause significant problems for the patient,” Gao says. “There is a demand for technology that can aid in recovery.”

Smart bandages, as opposed to traditional bandages, are made of a flexible and stretchy polymer that contains embedded electronics and medication. The electronics enable the sensor to detect molecules such as uric acid or lactate, as well as conditions such as pH level or temperature in the wound that may indicate inflammation or bacterial infection.

Three potential responses are possible from the bandage. First, it can wirelessly transfer the information gathered from the wound to a nearby computer, tablet, or smartphone where the patient or a medical professional can review it. Second, it can deliver an antibiotic or other medication stored within the bandage directly to the wound site to treat inflammation and infection. Third, it can apply a low-level electrical field to the wound to stimulate tissue growth, resulting in faster healing.

In animal models under laboratory conditions, the smart bandages demonstrated the ability to provide researchers with real-time updates on wound conditions and the animals’ metabolic states, as well as to speed healing of chronic infected wounds similar to those found in humans.

Caltech lab of Wei Gao, conducts research into wearable devices and biosensors. (Image by: Courtesy of Caltech)

Gao says the results are promising and that future research will focus on improving the bandage technology and testing it on human patients, whose therapeutic needs may differ from those of lab animals.

“We demonstrated this proof of concept in small animal models, but in the future, we would like to increase the device’s stability while also testing it on larger chronic wounds because wound parameters and microenvironment may vary from site to site,” he says.

The study’s paper, “A stretchable wireless wearable bioelectronic system for multiplexed monitoring and combination treatment of infected chronic wounds,” appears in the March 24 issue of Science Advances. Co-authors include postdoctoral scholar research associates in medical engineering Ehsan Shirzaei Sani and Yu Song; medical engineering graduate students Changhao Xu (MS ’20), Canran Wang, Jihong Min (MS ’19), Jiaobing Tu (MS ’20), Samuel A. Solomon, and Jiahong Li; and Jaminelli L. Banks and David G. Armstrong of USC’s Keck School of Medicine.

The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, the Heritage Medical Research Institute, the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center at Caltech, the Rothenberg Innovation Initiative at Caltech, and a Sloan Research Fellowship.

Info source – Caltech

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