A new electronic ‘patch’ claims to heal wounds 30 percent faster than traditional bandages by sending electrical signals directly to the injured site.
Developed by engineers at Northwestern University, the innovation consists of flexible, stretchable electrodes, an energy-generating coil to power the system, and sensors that access the healing process.
When the wound has healed, the flower-shaped electrode dissolves in the body, eliminating the need to retrieve it.
In an animal study, the new bandage even healed diabetic ulcers 30 percent faster after 30 minutes than in unbanded mice.
A new smart ‘bandage’ claims to heal wounds 30 percent faster than traditional bandages. It does this by sending electrical signals to the site of the injury
Injuries disrupt the body’s normal electrical signals, but the new device restores them through electrical stimulation.
Northwestern’s Guillermo Ameer, who co-led the study, said, “Our bodies rely on electrical signals to function.
“We tried to restore or promote a more normal electrical environment over the wound.
‘We saw that cells quickly migrated into the wound and regenerated skin tissue in the area. The new skin tissue included new blood vessels and the inflammation was suppressed.
One side of the dressing contains two electrodes.
The electrodes are made of the metal molybdenum, which is widely used in electronic and semiconductor applications.
If this metal is thin enough, it can biodegrade, meaning it can disappear without interfering with the healing process.
“We are the first to show that molybdenum can be used as a biodegradable electrode for wound healing,” Ameer told SWS.
Injuries disrupt the body’s normal electrical signals, but the new device restores them through electrical stimulation. It consists of flexible, stretchable electrodes and a power-generating coil to power the system
‘After about six months most of it was gone. And we found that there is very little accumulation in the organs. Nothing unusual.
“But the amount of metal we use to make these electrodes is so minimal that we don’t expect it to cause any major problems.”
The first electrode, in the shape of a flower, sits on top of the wound bed.
The second is a ring-shaped electrode placed on healthy tissue to surround the wound.
On the other hand, there is a power harvesting coil to power the system and a Near-Field Communication (NFC) system that wirelessly transports data in real time.
Sensors have also been fitted so that doctors can see how well the wound is healing without follow-up appointments.
Sensors are also fitted at the end, allowing doctors to monitor the healing process in real time
They do this by measuring the resistance of the electric current through the wound.
As the wound gets better, the electrical current measurement decreases.
“When a wound is trying to heal, it creates a moist environment,” says Ameer.
“Then, while it heals, it should dry up. Moisture changes the current, so we can detect that by tracking electrical resistance in the wound.
‘Then we can collect that information and send it wirelessly.
‘With wound care management, we ideally want the wound to close within a month. If it takes longer, that delay can be a cause for concern.’
The team now plans to test their dressing for diabetic ulcers in a larger animal model, hoping to eventually test it on humans.
Because the bandage harnesses the body’s healing power without releasing drugs or biologics, it faces fewer regulatory hurdles.
This means patients can see the potential much earlier on the market.