Paint a sensor on your skin

The transparent liquid bandage displays a quantitative, oxygenation-sensitive color map that can be easily acquired using a simple camera or smartphone. Credit: Z. Li/Wellman Center for Photomedicine

There are several versions of smart bandages that have been manufactured in the last few years. Their goal is to provide information on the healing progress to a doctor without the need to remove the bandage.

This news is about a new version of a smart bandage and to my knowledge it is the first one that can be “panted” on the screen. It does not involve electronics, as many of the others do, but just a mix of chemicals.

Healing is dependent on a good circulation of blood and in turns this can be assessed measuring the quantity of oxygen available in the skin.

Researchers at Harvard in cooperation with doctors at MGH in Boston have found a way to measure the concentration of oxygen by inserting a phosphorescent molecule, that changes its light emission depending on the concentration of oxygen in the tissue, in a liquid bandage that can be painted on the skin providing an airtight sealing layer plus a device to read the light emitted.

The doctors plan to use this bandage on patients who had surgery to check on possibile ischemic conditions, monitoring of skin grafts or flaps, and monitoring of the evolution of burnt situation where it is essential to have surgical debridement of dead tissue.

The researchers are now working on increasing the sensitivity of the glowing molecule and studying other molecules that can detect changes in the Ph of the skin (another important information of the health of the tissue), presence of bacteria and specific pathogens.

One might also expect improvement in the detection device, with a possibile use of a smartphone, I would expect, to make monitoring possibile also away from the hospital.

Interesting to see how various sciences are working together to deliver better, cheaper and easier to use bandages. Who would have imagined in the last century that a simple bandage could become a diagnostic tool for continuous monitoring of recovery?


Author - Roberto Saracco

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