A New Wound Dressing With Built-in Sensors

Image by Dian Polekhina on Unsplash

A research team has developed a smart wearable sensor that can conduct real-time, point-of-care assessment of chronic wounds wirelessly via an app. The world-first sensor technology can detect temperature, pH, bacteria type and inflammatory factors specific to chronic wounds within 15 minutes, enabling fast and accurate wound assessment.

More patients are suffering from non-healing wounds such as diabetic foot and chronic venous leg ulcers due to ageing and diabets, with an estimated 2% of the world’s population suffering from chronic wounds. Pain, stress and even amputation can result. Timely care and proper treatment of chronic wounds are needed to speed up wound recovery, but requires multiple clinical visits for lengthy wound assessment and treatment. This new technology can alleviate these problems.

The development of the technology was outlined in the journal Science Advances.

Currently, clinical assessments of wounds rely on visual inspection, or collecting and sending wound fluid for lab tests for biomarkers. This process usually takes about one to two days and may impede  medical interventions. Though flexible sensors designed for wound care have been developed, they can only probe a limited set of markers such as acidity, temperature, oxygen, uric acid, and impedance to diagnose wound inflammation.

VeCare is a response to these problems, a point-of-care wound assessment platform consisting of an innovative wound sensing bandage, an electronic chip and a mobile app. The bandage consists of a wound contact layer, a breathable outer barrier, a microfluidic wound fluid collector and a flexible immunosensor. VeCare is the first wound assessment platform that can detect bacteria type and probe inflammatory factors, in addition to measuring acidity and temperature, within a single 15-minute test. The microfluidic wound collector boosts delivery to the immunosensor for analysis.

In addition, the reusable integrated chip transmits data to an app for convenient, real-time wound assessment and analysis onsite.

The VeCare platform and mobile app enable doctors to monitor the condition of patients’ chronic wounds remotely, and complements the patient’s existing medical treatment while facilitating timely medical intervention for wound healing processes.

“Point-of-care devices coupled with telehealth or digital health capability can play a significant role in transforming the healthcare industry and our society, which is catalysed by the COVID-19 pandemic requirements for safe distancing. Our smart bandage technology is the first of its kind designed for chronic wound management to give patients the freedom to perform the test and monitor their wound conditions at home,” said research leader Professor Lim Chwee Teck from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Biomedical Engineering.

A small clinical test of VeCare was conducted on patients with chronic venous leg ulcers, successfully demonstrating the platform’s effectiveness.
“The VeCare platform is easily scalable and customisable to accommodate different panels of biomarkers to monitor various types of wounds. The aim is to have an effective and easy to use diagnostic and prognostic tool for precise and data-driven clinical management of patients,” commented Prof Lim.

Next steps include a larger randomised trial and scaling up production to bring the device to market.

Source: National University of Singapore

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