Researchers at Linköping University in Sweden have developed a nanocellulose wound dressing that can detect early signs of infection without interfering with the healing process.
The study, published in Materials Today Bio, is another step towards a new type of wound care.
Researchers developing the wound #dressing that can detect infection https://t.co/OEvoiAN4zthttps://t.co/6qRykhtATA
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) April 18, 2023
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. The wound interferes with the normal function of the skin and can take a long time to heal, be very painful to the patient, and, in the worst case, can lead to death if not properly treated.
Wounds that are difficult to heal are also a significant burden on society and account for almost half of all outpatient care costs.
Ett sårförband gjort with nanocellulose that can be used as visa tidiga tecken på #infection utan att störa lakningen. Det har forskare vid Linköpings universitet utvecklat.
– Det öppnar for en ny typ av sårbehandling, säger Daniel Aili, professor vid LiU.https://t.co/epwn5hfDUV#wordpic.twitter.com/199KzcWkDE
– Linköping University (@liu_universitet) April 19, 2023
In conventional wound care, dressings are changed regularly, approximately every two days. To check if the wound is infected, medical staff should remove the dressing and evaluate based on appearance and test results. This is a painful procedure that interferes with wound healing, as the scabs often burst. The risk of infection also increases each time a wound is opened.
Researchers at Linköping University, in collaboration with colleagues at Orebro and Luleå Universities, have developed a nanocellulose wound dressing that can detect early signs of infection without interfering with the healing process.
“Being able to immediately tell if a wound has become infected without removing the dressing opens up a new type of wound care that can lead to more effective care and improved quality of life,” says Daniel Ailey, Professor of Biophysics and Bioengineering at the University of Linköping: “Patients with wounds that are difficult to heal. It can also reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics.”
The dressing is made of nanocellulose with a dense mesh that prevents bacteria and other microbes from entering. At the same time, the material passes gases and liquids, which is important for wound healing. The idea is that once the dressing is applied, it will remain throughout the healing process. If the wound becomes infected, the dressing will change color.
The pH value (pH) of non-infected wounds is about 5.5 pH. When an infection occurs, the wound becomes progressively more radical and may have a pH value of 8 or higher. This is because the bacteria in the wound change their environment to match the optimal environment for their growth.
A high pH value can be detected in a wound long before pus, tenderness or redness, which are the most common signs of infection, appears.
To make a higher pH wound dressing, the researchers used bromothymol blue, BTB, which is a dye that changes color from yellow to blue when the pH is above 7.
In order to use BTB in the dressing without damaging it, it was applied to a silica material with pores as small as a few nanometers.
The silica material can then be combined with the dressing without compromising the nanocellulose material. As a result, the wound dressing turns blue when an infection is present.
Wound infections are often treated with antibiotics that circulate throughout the body. But if the infection is caught early, local treatment of the wound may be sufficient. That’s why Aile and his colleagues at Orebro University are also developing antimicrobial agents based on so-called lipid peptides that kill all types of bacteria.
Ailey says the new wound dressing and antimicrobial material is part of the development of a new type of wound care in patient care. But since all products to be used in healthcare settings must undergo rigorous and costly testing, he estimates it will be five to ten years before they become available.