Bacterial infection, although common, can nevertheless lead to severe medical complications, especially when left undetected at the early stages. As part of a new research, a team of British scientists has developed the world’s first bandage that turns green when exposed to infection-causing bacteria. Containing a special, gel-like substance filled with tiny capsules, the smart bandage is designed to release a non-toxic green dye upon contact with colonies of harmful bacteria.
The project was conducted by scientists from UK’s University of Bath, in collaboration with a group of clinical researchers at the University of Bristol. According to the team, the ‘smart’ bandage, which has not yet been tested on humans, could eventually help health-care professionals diagnose and manage infections more efficiently, thus preventing patients from getting sick as a result of unchecked bacterial diseases. The technology could also prevent mis-prescribing and over-prescribing of antibiotics as a preventative measure against possible microbial infection.
One of the primary applications of the technology, the researchers believe, could be in case of burn treatment. Burn victims are usually at a higher risk of developing serious infections. As a result, doctors tend to over-prescribe antibiotics; a practice that often leads to antibiotic resistance among these microorganisms. This is also true in case of surgical wounds as well as those incurred during accidents and other kinds of trauma. According to the scientists, the new color-changing bandage could help doctors and patients detect an infection at the early stages, when it can still be managed.
Bacterial colonization of wounds results in the formation of a slimy, puss-like biofilm, which in turn allows the microbes to survive against the attacks of the immune system. When present in large numbers, these pathogens produce a variety of harmful toxins. The newly-developed wound dressing contains a layer of dye-infused capsules that actually behaves like a cell membrane. Consequently, the toxins pierce the capsules, in much the same way as they would the cells in our body. The released dye then turns green, when diluted by the surrounding gel-like material.
While the technology has not yet been tested in case of humans, Keith Harding of Cardiff University believes that it is a step forward from the currently-available medical microbiology techniques. At a recent presentation, the team was able to showcase its efficacy, with the help of prototype bandages that became fluorescent in presence of three different species of pathogenic bacteria. When exposed to harmless bacteria, however, these bandages did not undergo any such color change. If everything goes according to plan, the technology could be available for clinical testing by the year 2018.
Via: MIT Tech Review