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Intelligent Wound Plasters for Chronic Wound Care

Las tiritas inteligentes para el tratamiento de las heridas crónicas

Researchers have made significant advancements in developing electronic dressings and other tools to improve the monitoring and healing of chronic wounds. Chronic wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, surgical wounds, and pressure injuries, are more deadly than many realize. Patients with chronic wounds have a five-year survival rate of around 70%, worse than that of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other serious diseases. Treating chronic wounds is also expensive, costing an estimated $28 billion a year in the United States alone.

A team of researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is working to revolutionize wound care with cutting-edge technologies, including smart dressings that can automatically detect and respond to changing conditions inside a wound. These advanced bandages would provide continuous data on healing and potential complications, such as infections or abnormal inflammation, and could deliver medications or other treatments in real-time.

The researchers have developed and tested a smart bandage in animal models, with promising results. The bandage is made of bioelectronics that can support healing by electrically stimulating tissues and cells, and includes advanced hydrogels that can store and release drugs in response to pH, temperature, or other environmental factors.

The smart bandage contains various sensors that can detect changes in the microenvironment of a wound, including electrochemical sensors that measure the presence of proteins, antibodies, nutrients, and electrolytes, and optical sensors that monitor temperature, pH, and oxygen levels.

Despite the progress made, there are several obstacles that must be overcome before smart bandages can be incorporated into routine medical practice. These obstacles include the need for a significant revision of current wound care standards, as well as the requirement for special approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Once the data is collected by a smart bandage, it can be processed and analyzed with machine learning tools that allow for fast and efficient monitoring and care, whether in the doctor’s office or remotely. The data can be used to detect high-risk individuals and provide targeted interventions, improving outcomes and reducing healthcare costs.

The researchers believe that the development of smart bandages could not only save lives but also improve the quality of life for many patients. They hope to maximize ulcer-free, hospital-free, and active days for patients with chronic wounds and are studying new approaches to wound care that use ultrasound technology to guide the delivery of gene therapy treatment.

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