Innovation That Matters

Fluorescent dressing glows to detect infections

Sport & Fitness

Researchers at the University of Bath are developing a wound dressing that changes color in the presence of toxic bacteria.

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There’s a huge demand for engineering materials that detect dangerous substances invisible to the naked eye, such as these gloves that change color in the presence of hazardous substances. Similarly, researchers at the University of Bath have been developing a material to detect potentially deadly bacteria on open wounds.

Using a hydrogel containing fluorescent dye, the prototype wound-dressing glows in the presence of bacterial ‘biofilms’ — a state bacteria exist in that’s difficult for drugs to penetrate. Treating open wounds can be complicated by the presence of certain bacteria, which can lead to infections, prolonging treatment and making the situation potentially fatal. These infections can currently only be detected after they’ve taken hold, so standard medical practice requires removing and replacing the dressing, leading to patient distress. This new solution is capable of detecting a number of infectious bacterial species, and organisms normally present on human skin don’t trigger the color change.

Whilst a long way from the clinical trial stage, the wound dressing shows that early detection of invisible infections is possible. Could the glowing appearance of this solution be a hit with children?



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