If you thought that band-aids are just sticky plasters to heal small cuts and grazes, then get ready for their high-tech upgrade that can even be used to treat skin cancer, says research.
Polymertronics, based in Banbury, UK, is developing a new type of plasters embedded with light-emitting diodes, which can treat skin cancer when combined with light-sensitive drugs.
The plasters are impregnated with a series of organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs), and are being designed for use in photodynamic therapy in which light-sensitive drugs are applied to the skin as a cream.
When red light is shined on the area, it activates the drugs, which destroy the tumour as they soak though the skin.
Currently, the photodynamic therapy is limited to hospitals because the red light for the treatment is only available via expensive lamps and lasers.
However, Stephen Clemmet, CEO of Polymertronics, says that the light plasters may allow people with skin cancer to treat themselves at home.
"We're looking at developing a faster, cheaper, easier way to treat skin cancer," New Scientist magazine quoted him as saying.
OLEDs emit light when a voltage is applied to them.
For making the plasters, the company has developed a way to print 4-millimetre square clusters of battery-powered red OLEDs onto a strip of flexible plastic.
They have made sure that the pattern of OLEDs exactly matches the shape of the patient's tumour.
The plaster is then placed over the tumour, allowing the red light to be targeted directly at the cancerous tissue.
In lab experiments, the researchers have found that the OLEDs have the potential to destroy a range of cancer cells.
They are hoping to begin human trials of the light-emitting plasters.
Polymertronics presented the devices at a meeting on polymer electronics in London, and is hoping to launch them commercially within two years.