A new bandage in development at MIT has the potential independently release medicine into wounds when changes in temperature and bacteria levels suggest an infection.
This medicating patch is a new stage in the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering’s pursuit of solutions that create efficient long-term interface channels between electronics and the human body. The hydrogel making up the so-called “smart bandage” has rubbery and flexible qualities similar to human skin despite being largely made of water. Tiny embedded devices would release antibiotics when bacteria and unusual temperature increases trigger a sensor. Meanwhile, LED lights would blink to indicate the bandage has used up nearly all its medication.
The smart bandage may even be intuitive enough to choose from more than one sustained-release drug loaded in the reservoirs of its hydrogel matrix at a time. Researchers are first aiming to successefully use the smart bandage to treat burns before exploring its effectiveness patching and medicating other wounds.
In order to ensure it could bind reliably to electronic sensors, the bandage’s design also allows it to adhere to silicon, aluminum, gold and titanium. Since radio waves power the sensors themselves, the smart bandage has no battery, though titanium wires running throughout the hydrogel body make it electrically conductive. Thanks to a hydrogel superglue concurrently developed by the smart bandage research team, similar devices such as glucose monitors could be practically applied inside a human body as well.
All that may sound exciting, but don’t go asking about smart bandages at your neighborhood Walgreens or CVS just yet. MIT researchers won’t focus on commercializing their innovation until it passes the FDA’s rigorous approval process. Sadly, that could take years.
Source – Boston Herald