Researchers from TUFTS University have developed a prototype bandage designed to actively monitor the condition of chronic wounds and deliver appropriate drug treatments to improve the chances of healing.
The research is aimed to transform bandaging from a traditionally passive treatment into a more active paradigm to address a persistent and difficult medical challenge.
The bandages are designed with heating elements and thermo responsive drug carriers that can deliver tailored treatments in response to embedded pH and temperature sensors that can track definition and inflammation.
The pH of a chronic wound is one of the key parameters for monitoring its progress. Normal healing wounds fall within the range of pH 5.5 to 6.5, whereas non-healing infected wounds can have pH well above 6.5.
Temperature plays a major role as it provides information on the level of inflammation in and around the wound.
Flexible sensors have been developed for oxygenation, which is another marker of healing that can be integrated into the bandage.
Inflammation could also be tracked not just by heat, but by specific biomarkers as well.
A microprocessor reads the data from the sensors and can release drug on demand from its carriers by heating the gel.
The entire construct is attached to a transparent medical tape to form a flexible bandage less than 3 mm thick.
Components were selected to keep the bandage cheap and disposable, except for the microprocessor, which can be re-used.
Smart bandages could provide real time monitoring and delivery of treatment with limited intervention from the patient or caregivers.
The smart bandages have been created and tested successfully under in vitro conditions.