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March 24, 2021

New bandage could outsmart infections

University of Rhode Island researchers embedded nanosensors in the fibers of a bandage, creating a continuous, non-invasive way of detecting and monitoring wound infections. They're testing the technology to see if diagnoses infections at the early stage, resulting in fewer antibiotics and preventing drastic measures, such as limb amputation.

Credit: National Science Foundation/Karson Productions

Dressed to heal.

I'm Bob Karson with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.

(Sound effect: kiddo crying) Remember when you got a boo-boo and your mom or dad would clean it and put on a band-aid? It instantly felt better because it came with a little something extra -- love! Researchers at the University of Rhode Island can't improve on the love part, but they have come up with a new wound-covering material that definitely has something extra -- the ability to detect and monitor infection.

A smart bandage material specially designed with tiny carbon nanosensors woven into the fibers that monitor the wound and wirelessly send signals to a small wearable that can interface with a smart phone-type device. The sensors measure concentrations of naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide secreted by white blood cells to fight infection. It can detect very small concentrations and, in many cases, spot an infection in its very early stages.

If you saw their small bandage prototype you might mistake it for a normal band-aid. The material can be used with any size bandage. The team says the smart bandage might be even more useful on larger wounds because doctors could keep tabs on an infection without having to remove and replace the bandage.

Still in the testing stages, it's proven to be a valuable diagnostic tool. In addition to that kiss (Sound effect: big wet kiss), a little tech to help make it all better.

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