Smart bandages are the future of wound healing

Chronic and non-healing wounds are one of the most devastating complications of diabetes. They are also a leading cause of limb amputation which affects millions worldwide each year.

But the complex nature of these wounds means that proper clinical treatment is limited.

To combat this, researchers in the US have designed a wirelessly-controlled, or “smart,” bandage, which can precisely deliver independent doses of medications to the wound.

This bandage, developed by Dr Ali Tamayol and researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Harvard Medical School, is equipped with miniature needles that can be controlled wirelessly – allowing drugs to be programmed by care providers without even visiting the patient.

“This is an important step in engineering advanced bandages to facilitate the healing of hard to treat wounds. The bandage does not need to be changed continuously,” said Dr Tamayol.

The process of wound healing requires different medications at different stages of tissue regeneration. The “smart” bandage – a wearable device – can deliver the medication with minimal invasiveness.

Using the phone platform, the health provider can wirelessly control the release of multiple drugs which are delivered through the miniature needles. These needles are able to penetrate into deeper layers of the wound bed with minimal pain and inflammation.

The research team found this method proved to be more effective for wound closure and hair growth when compared to the topical administration of drugs, and is also minimally invasive.

The research, recently published in the Advanced Functional Materials journal, was first conducted on cells and later on diabetic mice with full thickness skin injury. With this technology, the mice showed signs of complete healing and lack of scar formation -showing the bandages’ ability to significantly improve the rate and quality of wound healing in diabetic animals.

These findings can potentially replace existing wound care systems and significantly reduce the morbidity of chronic wounds. This will change the way diabetic wounds are treated.

The team have recently applied for a patent for this technology. If successful, ‘smart’ bandages may be a part of future treatment for chronic diabetic wound

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