Laced with nanoparticles, a new 'self medicating' bandage can detect harmful bacteria in a burn wound and respond by secreting the necessary antibiotics.
"Fifty per cent of all people who die as a result of burn injuries do so as a direct consequence of infection, which is why this research is so important," New Scientist quoted Toby Jenkins from the University of Bath, UK, who is developing the bandage with an international team of researchers, as saying.
The idea behind the bandage is that while harmful bacteria cause infections by attacking cells with toxins that dissolve the cell membrane, 'friendly' bacteria, which help the body to function, don't.
Currently bandages have to be removed if an infection is suspected, which can cause injury to the patient and can slow healing.
Jenkins says one of the biggest challenges will be ensuring that the dressings can be stored without losing effectiveness.
The technology might also be useful in external dressings that are used to fix in place central venous catheters and other medical devices that are inserted into the body.
The report appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.