- A smart bandage designed helps in healing chronic wounds or battlefield injuries
- The smart bandage is loaded with infection-fighting antibiotics, painkillers, tissue-regenerating growth factors, and other medications
- One single smart bandage contains multiple medications that can treat any type of wound
A smart bandage has been designed that could aid in healing every fiber of the chronic wounds or battlefield injuries, reveals a new study conducted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School, and MIT.
New Smart Bandage Heals Wounds
The smart bandage consists of electrically conductive fibers. These fibers are coated in a gel that can be individually loaded with infection-fighting antibiotics, painkillers, tissue-regenerating growth factors, and other medications.
Smartphone or other wireless devices can trigger the microcontroller that can send small amounts of voltage through a fiber that has been chosen. The voltage heats up the fiber and its hydrogel and releases whatever load it contains.
Ali Tamayol, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Nebraska said that the combination of customization can be improved or accelerate the healing process.
Smart Bandage releases Multiple Drugs
Tamayol said that this is the first smart bandage that is efficient of dose-dependent drug release. Multiple drugs can be released, which have different release profiles and comes as a great benefit when compared to the other systems. The research team has come up with a strategy in building a bandage from the bottom up, where this can be applied to many different areas in biomedical engineering and medicine.
The research team initially had a picture that this smart bandage can be used in treating chronic skin wounds, which are developed from diabetes.
More than 25 million Americans and more than 25 percent of U.S. adults who are 65 years and older suffer from these wounds. By 2050, diabetes cases will be doubled or tripled, estimated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tamayol said that the medical costs would be tremendous for these types of wounds and there is a need for further research to find solutions.
Smart Bandage Heals Wounds Faster
Individuals who were wounded in the warfare can also benefit from this newly developed smart bandage, which is versatile and customizable like to stimulate faster healing of the bullet or shrapnel wounds and to prevent the onset of infection in remote environments, said Tamayol.
"Soldiers on the battlefield may be suffering from some different injuries or infections; they might be dealing with some different pathogens. Imagine that you have a variable patch that has antidotes or drugs targeted toward specific hazards in the environment," he said.
The existing bandages range from basic dry patches to more advanced designs. Over time, these bandages can slowly release an embedded medication.
A series of experiments have been conducted by Tamayol and his colleagues at Harvard to evaluate the advantages of their smart bandage.
In one experiment, the research team applied a smart bandage loaded with the growth factor to the wounded mice. When compared with a dry bandage, the smart bandage helped regrew the blood-rich tissues three times more.
Another experiment done by the research team showed that the bandage that has been loaded with antibiotics completely eradicated the infection-causing bacteria.
Tamayol also said that these experiments showed that the heat required to release the medications did not affect their potency. Even though the research team has patented their design, further animal and human testing are required before it is released into the market.
Tamayol said that this could take several years, despite the fact that it has already been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Smart Bandage Heals Wounds Faster
The research team is also working to incorporate thread-based sensors, which could aid in measuring glucose, pH and other health-related indicators of skin tissue.
Integrating that capability can create a bandage that can freely deliver treatments properly. The detailed design and findings were published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.
Tamayol authored the study with Harvard's Ali Khademhosseini, Pooria Mostafalu, Gita Kiaee, Giorgio Giatsidis, Akbar Khalilpour, Mahboobeh Nabavinia, Mehmet Dokmeci and Dennis Orgill, along with Sameer Sonkusale of Tufts University.