Smart bandages heal faster, better

Researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and MIT have developed a smart bandage the could heal wound three times faster than conventional bandages. The bandage, which is activated by a wireless device, is explained in Advanced Functional Materials.

The bandage contains electrically conductive fibers covered in a gel that can be loaded with antibiotics, growth factors, painkillers or other medications. The bandage is then activated by a wireless device or smartphone that instructs fibers to release the medications within.

"This is the first bandage that is capable of dose-dependent drug release," said Ali Tamayol, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "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. This is a platform that can be applied to many different areas of biomedical engineering and medicine."

Additionally, bandages could hold more than one mediation. These multiple medications, paired with the ability to wirelessly control the amount of medication given, offer more precise care and speed up the healing process. In testing, researchers placed conventional bandages and smart bandages on mice. The smart bandage was able to regrow tissue three times as fast as conventional bandages.