Scientists Engineering Advanced Wound Dressings

FRIDAY, July 9 (HealthDay News) -- A revolutionary medical dressing that can detect and treat infection in wounds is being developed by an international team of scientists.

When the dressing detects infection-related bacteria, it will release antibiotics from tiny embedded capsules, the researchers explained. The dressing will also change color in order to alert health-care providers that there is infection in the wound.

"Your skin is normally home to billions of 'friendly' bacteria, which it needs to stay healthy," project leader Dr. Toby Jenkins, of the University of Bath in England, said in a university news release. "The dressing is only triggered by disease-causing bacteria, which produce toxins that break open capsules containing the antibiotics and dye. This means that antibiotics are only released when needed, which reduces the risk of the evolution of new antibiotic-resistant superbugs such as MRSA [methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus]."

The team involved in the Bacteriosafe project is made up of chemists, cell biologists, clinicians and engineers from Europe and Australia. A prototype will be developed over four years and the new dressing could be on the market a few years after completion of the project.

This type of dressing could be an important advance in treating burn victims because infections in these patients can cause a potentially fatal condition called toxic shock syndrome. The dressing could also be used for other types of wounds, such as ulcers, or by the military on the battlefield, according to the researchers.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: University of Bath, news release, July 8, 2010