California, US – Elastic smart bandages developed by scientists at Caltech allow the monitoring and treatment of slow-healing wounds, such as burns and cuts in diabetic people. They rely on a PU membrane to protect the technology within.
The stretchy bandages contain embedded sensor electronics and medication. The sensors enable the remote monitoring of molecules like lactate and uric acid, and can also keep an eye on other conditions such as temperature and pH level that could indicate inflammation or a bacterial infection.
Previous attempts to incorporate biosensors had had issues resulting from the wound fluid itself. By using an outer porous PU-based membrane as an analyte diffusion limiting layer, the electrode was protected, ensuring the sensor was biocompatible and mechanically stable.
The smart bandage can transmit data gathered by the sensors to a nearby smartphone, tablet or computer, where it can be reviewed by the patient or medical professional. It can deliver an antibiotic (or other medicine) stored within the bandage directly to the wound site to treat infection or inflammation. And it can also apply a low-level electric field to the wound to stimulate tissue growth.
“There are many different types of chronic wounds, especially in diabetic ulcers and burns that last a long time and cause huge issues for the patient,” said Wei Gao, whose lab developed the bandages. “We have showed this proof of concept in small animal models, but down the road, we would like to increase the stability of the device but also to test it on larger chronic wounds because the wound parameters and microenvironment may vary from site to site.”
The work has been published in the journal Science Advances.