technology

This new ‘smart’ bandage heals serious wounds 25% faster

Scientists have developed a “smart” bandage that can heal a serious wound 25% faster than the average bandage.

The battery-free flexible device monitors the injury and simultaneously delivers targeted healing treatments, a paper published in Nature Biotechnology reported.

“In sealing the wound, the smart bandage protects as it heals,” lead researcher Yuanwen Jiang, a professor at Stanford University, who is in the process of patenting the device, said in a release.

But it is not a passive tool. It is an active healing device that can transform the standard of care in the treatment of chronic wounds.”

The high-tech dressing repairs tissue by combining electrical stimulation and biosensors.

A miniature prototype of the advanced medical technology was on mice in the US as the team tracked the data in real time on a smart phone — all tested without the need for wires.

“Across pre-clinical wound models in mice, the treatment group healed 25 percent more rapidly and with 50 percent improvement in skin remodeling,” Jiang told South West News Service.

The battery-free flexible device monitors the injury and delivers targeted healing treatments at the same time with an electronic layer as thick as a strand of hair.

This was compared with controls. Further, we observed activation of pro-regenerative genes in immune cell populations, which may enhance recovery.”

The electronic layer of the “smart” bandage is just 100 microns thick — equivalent to human hair — and includes a microcontroller, radio antenna, memory, electrical stimulator, biosensors and other components.

Underneath lies a cleverly engineered, rubbery, skin-like hydrogel that delivers healing electrical stimulation and collects the biosensor data. Electrical stimulation is known to reduce bacterial infections and repair damaged tissue.

The researchers found that the stimulation increased the immune system’s white blood cell population, namely monocytes in the blood and macrophages in the tissue.

The “smart” bandage was also shown to boost skin growth to quickly close the open wound by circulating blood flow to the site, which also dramatically reduces scaring.

The high-tech dressing repairs tissue by combining electrical stimulation and biosensors.
The high-tech design allows the bandage to repair tissue with the use of electrical stimulation and biosensors.

Research showed that the bandage works in part by triggering an anti-inflammatory gene called SELENOP, which has been found to help with pathogen clearance and wound repair.

It also switches on another gene called APOE, which has been shown to increase muscle and soft tissue growth.

The circuitry in the device is able to identify potential issues, such as an infection, with the use of temperature detectors that inform the central processing unit to amp up the electrical stimulation.

The design also contains a polymer to securely stick to a wound when needed and pull away harmlessly when warmed to 104 degrees fahrenheight.

The researchers hope to improve the “promising, proof of concept design” and push it to mass production.

“With stimulation and sensing in one device, the smart bandage speeds healing, but it also keeps track as the wound is improving,” said co-author Artem A. Trotsyuk, now a professor at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

“We think it represents a new modality that will enable new biological discovery and the exploration of previously difficult-to-test hypotheses on the human healing process.”

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