“Smart” Bandage Controlled by Smartphones Could Change the Future of Wound Healing
Bandages have been long used to control bleeding, to keep the wound safe from infection, or to keep the dressing intact in the place. They are generally used for slow recovery of the wound, controlling the situation at the moment.
These traditional bandages require timely dressing and redressing of the wound to heal and to prevent contamination.
Smartness of “Smart Bandage”
Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School, and MIT have designed a smartphone-controlled “smart” bandage containing gel coated fibers that can conduct electricity. The smart bandage can be loaded with a painkiller, infection-preventing antibiotics, tissue-regenerating growth factors or any other medication according to the wound.
When smartphone triggers the bandage, a small amount of voltage heats the gel coated fibers and the gel. This releases the medicine contained in it. The heat released during the process does not decrease the potency of the medication.
Unlike the traditional bandages, no redressing of the wound is required while using the “smart bandage.” The dose and the delivery time of the medication can be controlled accordingly. Depending on the type of wound, multiple drugs can be customized for a patient, and the delivery rate can be adjusted to improve the healing process.
“This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release,” said Ali Tamayol, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Nebraska. “You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles.”
The team is hopeful that the “smart” bandage can be used to treat chronic wounds like that occur in diabetes patients and the injuries of war soldiers where the chances of infections are high.
Proving the Smartness and the Future Plans
In an experiment, “smart” bandage loaded with growth factors were applied to a wounded mice and compared the healing process with the one in a dry bandage. The blood vessels of mice with “smart” bandage grew three times faster than with a dry bandage. A “smart bandage” loaded with an antibiotic can destroy the infection-causing bacteria.
The team has patented the design of the “smart” bandage. It will further have to pass animal and human testing to reach the market. The study is published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.