A multi-institutional team of researchers developed a new type of bandage capable of stimulating the Healing Process of chronic wounds, as well as preventing infections. The Smart Bandage, detailed in a paper published in the journal of Advanced Functional Materials, was developed by researchers from the Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The very first bandage capable of dose-dependent drug release

The newly-developed bandage is composed of electrically conductive fibers coated in a gel.

These hydrogels can be individually stuffed with painkillers, as well as infection-fighting antibiotics and tissue-regenerating growth factors.

Using a smartphone or other wireless devices, a microcontroller can be triggered to transmit a small amount of voltage through a chosen fiber. The heat generated by the voltage melts the hydrogel, releasing the drugs directly into the wound.

The researchers noted that their bandage can be customized accordingly to different kinds of wounds. Tissue-regenerating growth factors can substantially improve the healing process, while infection-fighting antibiotics can help prevent the onset of infections.

To test out the effectiveness of the new bandage, the researchers filled the bandage with growth factors and applied it to wounded mice.

The wound covered with the smart bandage was able to regrow three times as much blood-rich tissue necessary for the healing process, compared to wound covered with regular, dry bandage.

The bandage packed with antibiotics also performed well in one of the experiments, successfully eradicating infection-causing bacteria. The heat used to release the medication loaded in the hydrogel did not affect the drugs’ potency.

The future treatment of chronic wounds

The versatility and customizability of the smart bandage can greatly help patients suffering from diabetes.

Patients with diabetes are more prone to chronic wounds. Chronic wounds are most commonly caused by conditions related to the nervous, circulatory and immune systems. This kind of wound requires specialized care and treatment that takes the patient’s unique needs into account.

The team already patented their design. However, the smart bandage needs to undergo further animal and human testing before it becomes available in the market, a process that could take several years.