Even with the most intense precautions, it’s difficult to predict if and when an infection will arise, which is often why doctors will dole out antibiotics if you get a particularly nasty wound, just in case. But now, thanks to science, there may be a major game-changer in the health world.
University of Bath biophysical chemistry professor Toby Jenkins and his team developed a “smart bandage” that may be able to serve as an early warning indicator so you can take care of possible infections before they escalate. How? By turning a wildly bright green when it senses any bacteria.
Inside of the bandage is a material much like gel that has miniscule dye-filled capsules that are punctured when they come into contact with toxins produced by bacteria. . . making the bandage emit a neon green color.
“What we really want to do is send the patient home but the big worry is that maybe there is an infection so the current advice is that you tell the parent to check the temperature every few hours,” Jenkins told Business Insider. “But temperature is not a great guide for infection. So you would use this in addition, in part to give parental reassurance that things are OK.”
Not only would this be super useful for putting on a small child when they get a cut outside, but in the hospital, as well. In fact, the motivation behind the project was largely due to seeing a small child at a burn unit who had accidentally poured boiling water all over herself. “Knowing that because there was no rapid way to diagnose the infection and that she could die the next day as a result is highly motivational,” Jenkins told Business Insider.
Doctors who are concerned about a wound generally take a sample using a swab and send them to a lab. . . and results take one or two days. But that time is precious, because that infection can escalate out of control and result in major health issues or even death. For this reason, antibiotics are often prescribed just in case; however, this route is not only expensive, but contributes to the problem of antibiotic resistance. This is exactly why this bandage could completely revolutionize the way doctors deal with infections.
The bandage is currently in the early development process and has not yet been tested on humans, but it’s “undoubtedly a step forward”, Keith Harding of Cardiff University School of Medicine told MIT Technology Review. After all, diagnosing wound infections is one of the largest hurdles in medicine today.
Saving lives with a super cool, glow-in-the-dark bandage. Science, you know us so well.
(Image via Twitter.)