Researchers from the University of Bath in the United Kingdom have developed a smart bandage. This bandage is “a prototype of the color-changing bandage, which contains a gel-like material infused with tiny capsules that release non-toxic fluorescent dye in response to contact with populations of bacteria that commonly cause wound infections.” It would be used to alert health officials of the potential for infection hours before evidence of clinical symptoms. It could even decrease bacterial resistance to antibiotics by decreasing antibiotic use for wounds only when necessary. This bandage could be used on any kind of wound including surgical or burn wounds. At a certain point, when the wound is populated by a colony of harmful bacteria, microbes protecting the colony start emitting toxins to defend the colony from the body’s immune system. According to the MIT Technology Review:
The new dressing works because the outer layer of the dye-containing capsules is designed to mimic aspects of a cell membrane. Toxins puncture the capsules like they would cells in the body, releasing the dye, which fluoresces when it is diluted by the surrounding gel.
The research team has illustrated how the bandage fluoresced when coming into contact with three different known pathogenic bacteria, but did not fluoresce when coming into contact with non-pathogenic bacteria. If all goes well, this smart bandage could be ready for clinical testing in 2018.