Infected Wounds Make New Bandage Glow
Scientists at the University of Sheffield have reportedly developed a new type of bandage, covered with a fluorescent gel that will glow if a wound becomes infected.
According to BBC News, the gel on the bandages contains molecules that will attach themselves to bacteria and activate a dye, which will then emit a pinkish glow under ultraviolet light.
“It should help doctors treating chronic wounds such as ulcers. Army medics could also use it to identify soldiers with infected battlefield injuries,” reporters with the British media outlet added.
The polymers contained within the dressing, identified as PNIPAM in a University of Sheffield press release, have been modified with the antibiotic vancomycin, as well as the fluorescent dye ethidium bromide, which reacts when it encounters infection-causing bacteria.
It also helps medical professionals know whether or not to use antibiotics, and which specific antibiotic would be best suited for the specific situation.
“The polymers incorporate a fluorescent dye and are engineered to recognize and attach to bacteria, collapsing around them as they do so,” Sheila MacNeil, a professor at the university and an expert in wound-healing issues, said during a presentation at the British Science Festival on Thursday.
“This change in polymer shape generates a fluorescent signal that we’ve been able to detect using a hand-held UV lamp,” she added.
The project first started in 2006, and was funded in part by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), part of the British Ministry of Defense, leading to speculation that the bandage likely will see use by the military during battlefield conditions.
“If you know you’ve got infection, it’s going to change how you treat your soldiers, it’s going to change how you’re going to treat those patients in the home,” MacNeil told the Guardian last week. “If it’s a high-level infection, they’re going to need antibiotics rapidly. If it’s a low-level infection, the best thing to do with a chronic wound is hold off on the antibiotics, clean the wound out, reduce the bacteria.”
The researchers are currently seeking partners to assist in the next stage of the research, and according to MacNeil, they believe they can reach the clinical trial stage in two or three years.
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