Parents and accident-prone adults, rejoice: A new bandage may tell you if that simple scrape is poised to become a festering bacteria farm.
A team of researchers from the University of Bath published an article presenting what they're calling "intelligent hydrogel wound dressing," which would glow fluorescent when the beginnings of an infection are present.
The bandage is, basically, a gel film full of little fluorescent dye sacs that glow when they interact with pathogenic bacteria commonly found in wound infections.
Toby Jenkins, a biophysical chemistry professor at the university and leader of the team, says the bandage could contribute to the early detection of infections. This could keep you from getting sick and even avoid the need for antibiotics.
As you probably know, when a burn or wound occurs on the skin, harmful bacteria grow in it. But an additional layer of trouble comes when a "biofilm" forms over the wound to fight against the immune system, helping the infection grow. This bandage would start glowing when it came in contact with the biofilm, alerting patients before the infection is strong enough to need clinical intervention.
The bandage shows huge promise for treating burn wounds on children, since that level of infection would wreak havoc on an infant's still-developing immune system.
Right now the bandage is only in prototype phase, but thanks to a grant from the U.K.'s Medical Research Council, it can begin testing the hydrogel on different kinds of wounds, including stabs and burn blisters. With any luck, we could see these new smart bandages in clinical tests around 2018.