A smart bandage developed by researchers at Stanford University could be another medical breakthrough in the emerging field of the amalgamation of health and technology.
The experts claim that their new invention is capable of monitoring wounds and delivering treatment as well. It can heal a serious wound 25% faster than a normal bandage.
A smart bandage can be especially useful for those who are diabetic and need to cure foot ulcers quickly. These ulcers last for months and the smart bandage could make health easier with faster treatment and fewer dressing phases. The dressing also repairs tissues as it combines electrical stimulation and biosensors. Therefore, people who have chronic injuries can also benefit hugely from the latest technological invention in the field of health.
Not only does it help the wound, but the bandage is "smart" enough to also work on scars like magic. It does so by boosting blood flow to the site of the injury. With its ability to detect temperature, it can pinpoint problems like inflammation and infection. The bandage ends up using its central processing unit to offer more electrical stimulation.
Experts experimented with a miniature prototype on mice. They tracked all the data live on a phone, which means that the dressing is wireless, making it more convenient.
“In sealing the wound, the smart bandage protects as it heals,” said author Yuanwen Jiang, a post-doctoral scholar in the lab of Zhenan Bao, the K K Lee Professor in Chemical Engineering at the Stanford School of Engineering, in a media release.
“But it is not a passive tool. It is an active healing device that could transform the standard of care in the treatment of chronic wounds.”
The invention, as described in the journal Nature Biotechnology, seems to have landed in the year 2022 from the future with its electronic layer only 100 microns thick, which is about the same as human hair. This layer has a radio antenna, memory, microcontroller, and electrical stimulator, among other components.
To deliver the electric stimulation, the bandage has skin-like hydrogel which collects the biosensor data. The rubbery gel also has a mild adhesive to help the bandage stick to the skin and easily pull away when need be. However, it has to be warmed to 104°F, which is a little above the human body temperature, to be removed harmlessly.
"Across pre-clinical wound models in mice, the treatment group healed 25% more rapidly and with 50% enhancement in skin remodelling,” Prof Jiang was quoted by SWNS.
"This was compared with controls. Further, we observed activation of pro-regenerative genes in immune cell populations, which may enhance recovery."
Artem Trotsyuk, the Chair of the Department of Surgery and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona, said that the smart bandage is faster due to the stimulation and sensing present in the same device.
"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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