Scientists have designed a smart plaster that can deliver customised medication via smartphone technology.
MPCA PhotosSmart active plasters that deliver tailor-made medication at the right intervals may soon replace conventional ones.
The plaster was initially designed with chronic wounds sufferers, such as diabetes patients, in mind: in the US alone around 30 million people have diabetes, and the disease has not just been on the rise globally, but is also increasingly prevalent in developing countries.
Another potential application is also the treatment of those wounded in combat, or by shrapnel: in these cases, the smart plaster could be set up to also deliver medication and antibiotics which are tailored to the local environment's very specific infection risks.
Thanks to its smart design which essentially allows for the right medication, in the right dose and at the right time to be applied onto the wound, the team behind the smart bandage are keen to point out its potential in treating a variety of wounds, and indeed in delivering tailor-made medication that can improve and speed up the healing process.
Researchers found that compared to conventional dry bandages, skin tissue grew three times as fast when applying their smart version - thereby not just helping patients, but reducing health care costs too.
Customised Wound Treatment Via Smartphone
The plaster “consists of electrically conductive fibers coated in a gel that can be individually loaded with infection-fighting antibiotics, tissue-regenerating growth factors, painkillers or other medications. A microcontroller no larger than a postage stamp, which could be triggered by a smartphone or other wireless device, sends small amounts of voltage through a chosen fiber. That voltage heats the fiber and its hydrogel, releasing whatever cargo it contains.”
This development is a promising step towards quicker and effective treatment of wounds, however more tests needs to be carried out before it is available on the market. In the meantime, additional features are also being researched, such as sensors that measure glucose and pH levels, for even more effective medication delivery.