Researchers from Harvard, MIT, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are developing a smart bandage that can release medication and speed the healing process.
These “intelligent bandages” are made from cotton coated with an electrically conductive substance, then further surrounded by a gel capable of storing medications like antibiotics or painkillers. The individual fibers are controlled by a device no larger than a postage stamp affixed to the bandage, receiving signals from your mobile device. The bandage heals wounds three times as fast as normal.
Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Nebraska Ali Tamayol elaborated in a press release:
This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release. You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles. That’s a big advantage in comparison with other systems. What we did here was come up with a strategy for building a bandage from the bottom up.
Tamayol said that this technology “can be applied to many different areas of biomedical engineering and medicine,” which is good news for people suffering from long term or chronic wounds. Right now, there are an estimated 25 million Americans in need of just such a solution.
Perhaps even more notably, such treatment could be invaluable to soldiers in the field. According to Tamayol:
Soldiers on the battlefield may be suffering from a number of different injuries or infections. They might be dealing with a number of different pathogens. Imagine that you have a variable patch that has antidotes or drugs targeted toward specific hazards in the environment.
Tamayol and his associates are not the only ones advancing the science of wound care. Bandages with nanoscale sensors that transmit data to healthcare providers are in development, as well as heat-responsive bandages that heal faster.
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