Smart burns dressing from University of Bath


Scientists are getting closer to providing clinicians with a method to accurately determine when a burn wound is infected. Biological dressings only work when left on and untouched for up to two weeks. With large burns an inflammatory response can occur, which is normal, but currently clinicians have no scientific basis on which to decide whether a wound is in an inflammatory state, or in an infected state and therefore the dressing needs to be removed. Laboratory tests do not distinguish between the two states.

Dr Toby Jenkins of the Chemistry Department, University of Bath, and Dr Amber Young of Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, have been collaborating on a smart wound dressing that detects and treats infection in paediatric burn wounds. In the UK, 38,000 children suffer burn injuries each year, and 5,000 require hosptialisation. For approximately 5% of children, an infection can lead to toxic shock syndrome.

Dr Jenkins’ dressing contains nanocapsules. If the wound becomes infected, the dressing will automatically release an antimicrobial agent and, if this fails to stop the infection, then the dressing changes colour through the release of a dye to alert the patient or clinicians. The dressing will only release the antimicrobial component if the wound becomes infected.

Dr Jenkins said, "The dressing is only triggered by disease-causing bacteria, which produce toxins that break open capsules containing the antibiotics and dye. This means that antibiotics are only released when needed, which reduces the risk of the evolution of new antibiotic-resistant super-bugs such as MRSA.”

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