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This Smart Bandage Turns Green When Wounds Are Infected

The bandage senses for biofilms released by bacterial colonies before they become dangerous.

People with severe burns face a high risk of infection. Bandages wrapped around a wound help the healing process, yet also raise the chances that nasty bacteria will multiply.

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But now U.K. researchers from the University of Bath have come up with a possible solution. They’ve developed a “smart bandage” that senses for bacteria and offers an early warning that a serious infection is on the way.

The bandage, designed for children, contains gel-like nanocapsules sensitive to toxins. When in presence of bacterial biofilms, the dressing releases a colored dye that tells clinicians they need to act.

The patch is still at the prototype stage. But, in tests, it turned green in the presence of three types of pathogenic bacteria and not in the presence of non-pathogenic bacteria. At the same time, the dressing can also secret antimicrobial agents that slow the infection rate.

The bandage senses for biofilms released by bacterial colonies as a protection mechanism, according to Toby Jenkins, a professor at the university. These films emerge before signs of serious clinical problems, so are useful early warning mechanisms.

At the same time, the bandage could help reduce the need for antibiotics that are often given preemptively to avoid infections. The research seems smart in several ways.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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