Bandages of future would be smartphone-controlled, release medication automatically
‘Injury-prone’ – a phrase good enough to describe most of us, isn’t it? Careless, always in a rush, and often ending up decorating ourselves with cuts or bruises. What follows next? bandages, healing ointments, or a handy medical kit to accompany in our post injury hours.
Ain’t this entire replacing bandages, re-dressing wounds, application of healing creams to cure injuries exasperating in itself? What if wounds could mend without we doing much effort? Well, it looks like researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT just heard us, as they’ve come up with what’s being called as a smart bandage.
A smart bandage is capable of healing chronic wounds by releasing required dosage of medication. As they put it:
the bandage consists of electrically conductive fibers coated in a gel that can be individually loaded with infection-fighting antibiotics, tissue-regenerating growth factors, painkillers, or other medications
Apart from the basic safekeeping of injury to avoid infections and exposure, the smart bandage incorporates a microcontroller, which can be activated through a smartphone or wireless device. The microcontroller is a control device which releases voltage to heat up the relevant fiber and hydrogel, further activating the underlying medication.
A single bandage can house multiple medications to treat a specific injury/wound. Healing power of the bandage can be accelerated by manipulating the voltage supplied.
Ali Tamayol (Assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at Nebraska) says,
This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release. You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles
And you’ll also be able to control the dose and delivery schedule of those medications, presumably with your smartphone through an app. The postage stamp sized smart bandage – a potential find for biomedical engineering and medicine – targets to treat chronic skin wounds triggered from Diabetes, as well as battlefield injuries and infections of soldiers.
Currently, the team is working hard to put things together for the smart bandage to administer effective treatment – design has been patented, but extensive testing needs to be done both on humans and animals. So it’s reasonable to say there’s still some time (read years) before you’ll be able to control your bandage through your phone.