This smart bandage senses and treats bacterial infections 25% faster
Image credits- Unsplash
- Scientists have developed a
smart bandagethat uses electrical stimulation to speed up the wound-healing process.
- The bandage comprise wireless circuitry and temperature sensors that can monitor the progression of wound healing.
- In preclinical wound models, the group of mice healed about 25% faster.
The researchers say in a published paper that their smart band-aid promotes faster closure of wounds, increases the blood flow to injured tissue, and enhances skin recovery by stimulating electric current to the wound.
Combating infection with electrical stimulation
Electrical stimulation, also known as galvanotaxis, has been previously reported to accelerate the migration of keratinocytes to the wound site, which limits bacterial infection and actively promotes tissue growth, and contributes to tissue repair.
This smart bandage comprises of electronic layer, including a microcontroller unit, electrical stimulator, memory, radio antenna, biosensors, and other components. It is just 100 microns thick. All these components are cleverly engineered in hydrogel - a rubber and skin-like polymer. All the components are integrated to deliver electrical stimulation to the wound and collect real-time biosensor data, such as skin temperature and biophysical changes. It allows researchers to track the data in real time on a smartphone without the need for wires.
When the bandage is applied to the wound, it detects the infection, and sensors in the smart bandage deliver electrical stimulation across the wound area to speed up tissue recovery and lower the infection.
Bandage’s biosensing capabilities monitor biophysical changes and sense temperature changes in the skin as the wound heals. “With stimulation and sensing in one device, the smart bandage speeds healing, but it also keeps track as the wound is improving,” says Artem Trotsyuk, a co-first author of the study.
Positive results and new directions
The researchers said, “In mice, we demonstrate that our wound care system can continuously monitor skin impedance and temperature and deliver electrical stimulation in response to the wound environment.” In preclinical wound models with mice, the wound healed about 25% faster than the traditional method.
Researchers now believe electrical stimulation heals wounds faster, and it also promotes the activation of pro-regenerative genes like ‘Selenop,’ an anti-inflammatory gene that contributes to wound repair, and ‘Apoe,’ which has been shown to increase muscle and soft tissue growth. Scientists also found that electrical stimulation increases the white blood cell population, namely macrophages and monocytes.
Researchers at Stanford University caution that the smart bandage is, as yet, a proof of concept but a promising one. According to them, many challenges remain; these include the size of the device to human scale, solving long-term data storage, reducing cost, and scaling up to mass production. Despite these hurdles, the researchers are pushing ahead and are optimistic about the potential of smart bandages.
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