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New “smart bandage” offers dose-dependent, multiple medication release treatment

Photo by Scott Schrage

In comparison with traditional dry patches, the smart bandage regrew three times more blood-rich tissue.

Researchers have designed a “smart bandage” that could accommodate multiple medications tailored to a specific type of wound, all in a single covering, according to a study published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials (Nov. 3, 2017; 27(41):1702399–1702409).

“This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release,” said study author Ali Tamayol, PhD, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Lincoln, Nev, in a press 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.”

The dose and delivery schedule of medications can be customized through a microcontroller, no larger than a postage stamp, that is triggered by a smartphone or other wireless devices. Voltage from the microcontroller heats the fiber and its hydrogel, releasing the medicine it contains onto the dermis.

Photo by Scott Schrage

Medicine in the smart bandage is released through small patches composed of a hydrogel coating, conductive coating and cotton thread.

Dr. Tamayol and his team conducted a series of experiments to evaluate the potential advantages of their smart bandage.

In one study, the scientists applied a smart bandage loaded with growth factor to wounded mice. When compared with a dry bandage, their version regrew three times as much of the blood-rich tissue critical to the healing process.

Another analysis showed that an antibiotic-loaded version of the bandage could eradicate infection-causing bacteria. Collectively the experiments also demonstrated that the heat needed to release the medications did not affect their potency.

The team anticipates that the smart bandage will be used initially to treat chronic skin wounds caused by diabetes. It can also help stimulate faster healing of bullet wounds or prevent the onset of infection in remote environments.

“This is a platform that can be applied to many different areas of biomedical engineering and medicine,” said Dr. Tamayol.

According to the researchers, further animal and then human testing is needed before the patented design can go to market. The clinicians are also working to incorporate thread-based sensors that can measure glucose, pH, and other health-related indicators of skin tissue. This will allow the team to create a bandage that could autonomously deliver proper treatments.

The investigators received support from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research and the National Institutes of Health in the United States.

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