New “Smart Bandages” Hold Potential for Revolutionizing Treatment of Chronic Wounds

Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine of USC are co-leading an effort to develop advanced electronic bandages and other tools to improve chronic wound monitoring and healing.

This wearable bioelectronic system, tested in animal models, may eventually improve monitoring and administer treatments such as controlled drug release and electrical stimulation for people with chronic wounds. (Credit: Wei Gao, California Institute of Technology).

Chronic wounds, which include diabetic ulcers, surgical wounds, pressure injuries, and other problems, are deadlier than many people realize. Patients with chronic wounds have a five-year survival rate around 70%, worse than that of breast cancer, prostate cancer, and other serious diseases. Treating wounds is also expensive, costing an estimated $28 billion each year in the U.S. alone. A team of researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is developing a series of cutting-edge technologies to revolutionize wound care, including smart bandages that would automatically sense and respond to changing conditions inside a wound. These high-tech dressings would provide continuous data on healing and potential complications, including infections or abnormal inflammation, and could deliver medications or other treatments in real time.

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