Scientists have developed smart wound dressings with built-in nanosensors that glow to alert patients when a wound is not healing properly. The research is published by the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
The multifunctional antimicrobial dressing is equipped with fluorescent sensors. They glow brightly under UV light if an infection begins to develop and can be used to track healing progress.
The smart dressings, developed by scientists and engineers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), have the powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties of magnesium hydroxide. The authors of the development note that their production is cheaper than dressings based on silver. At the same time, they are just as effective in fighting bacteria and fungi – their antimicrobial effect lasts up to a week.
Once applied to a wound, especially a chronic wound such as a diabetic ulcer, biocompatible magnesium hydroxide helps in the healing process by killing harmful bacteria and reducing inflammation. If an infection does occur, the wound site will become more alkaline. It is this pH change that causes the bright fluorescence of magnesium hydroxide when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Project leader Dr. Wee Khan Truong said the development of cost-effective antimicrobial dressings with embedded healing sensors would be a significant step forward in wound management. “Right now, the only way to check for wound progression is to remove the dressings. It is painful and dangerous because it opens the way for pathogens, ”the scientist notes.
Smart dressings not only fight bacteria and reduce inflammation to promote healing. Glowing sensors help track and control infection. “The development will reduce the need for frequent dressing changes and help better protect wounds,” the scientists conclude.