US Scientists Create Wireless Smart Patch to Accelerate Healing of Chronic Wounds
A team of US scientists has developed a wireless smart patch that can accelerate the healing of chronic wounds.
The patch, roughly the size of a quarter, is designed to be placed over the wound and uses a combination of sensors and microelectronics to deliver targeted therapy.
Chronic wounds are a significant health problem that affects millions of people worldwide. These wounds often fail to heal correctly, leading to complications, including infections and amputations.
In the United States alone, chronic wounds are estimated to affect more than 6.5 million people, with an annual cost of over $25 billion.
According to a recent study, scientists have developed a stretchable, wireless, and bioelectronic device that can adhere to the skin and aid in healing such wounds.
Dr. Wei Gao, a co-author from the California Institute of Technology, conducted the research. He explained that the device comprises a flexible, reusable printed circuit board and a disposable patch that includes biosensors, electrodes, and hydrogels containing medication.
How Does the Smart Patch Work?
The smart patch can detect changes in the wound environment, such as pH and temperature. It can deliver a range of therapies, including electrical stimulation and drug delivery, to promote healing.
The patch can also wirelessly transmit data to a smartphone app, allowing patients and healthcare providers to monitor the healing process in real-time.
The device overcomes the hurdle of bulky equipment and enables the delivery of electrical stimulation, which the study found to promote wound healing.
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Additionally, it facilitates the regulated discharge of anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial medicines. “All the signals can be wirelessly sent to a user interface like a computer or a cellphone,” said Gao.
He added, “We can control the drug release wirelessly by applying electrical potential.”
Benefits of Using the Smart Patch
One of the key advantages of the smart patch is its ability to deliver targeted therapy. Traditional wound dressings are often passive and cannot adjust to changes in the wound environment.
On the other hand, the smart patch can sense changes and adjust therapy accordingly, making it a more effective treatment option.
Another advantage of the smart patch is its convenience. The small and wireless patch allows patients to wear it comfortably and discreetly.
Patients can also go about their daily activities while wearing the patch, as it does not require any external wires or devices.
In Science Advances, the team reports on their experiments with smart bandages on wounds of diabetic rats and mice.
They found that the bandages could detect changes in the wound fluid’s temperature, glucose levels, and pH before and after infection and treatment.
Additionally, mice receiving drug release and electrical stimulation through the smart bandages experienced faster wound closure. They also appear to have less scarring than those without the bandages.
The team estimated that the reusable electronics component of the device would cost tens of dollars, with a few dollars for a disposable patch. An individual can use the smart bandage for up to two weeks.
Although further research with pigs and humans is needed, the team hopes clinics can use smart bandages within five to ten years.
Cheap ‘smart’ bandage heals infected, chronic wounds — fast https://t.co/jV4U6fAE2k pic.twitter.com/yd3bn2TR02
— New York Post (@nypost) March 24, 2023
When Can We Start Using this Technology?
While the smart patch is still in the early stages of development, initial studies have shown promising results. In a study of diabetic foot ulcers, the patch accelerated wound healing by up to 50%.
The researchers hope to conduct further studies to validate these results and refine the technology. The development of the wireless smart patch is an exciting advancement in treating chronic wounds.
With its ability to deliver targeted therapy and wirelessly transmit data, the patch can improve patient outcomes. It also promises to reduce healthcare costs associated with chronic wounds.
As the technology continues to evolve, it could become a standard part of wound care for millions worldwide.