A research team from the California Institute of Technology (CALTECH), in the USA, has developed a bioelectronic patch to control chronically infected wounds. It is a wireless and elastic system that promotes healing by electrical stimulation and pharmacological treatment at the lesion site. The device has been shown to speed healing in diabetic mice.
“This patch allows real-time monitoring the metabolic and inflammatory state of the lesion for a combined closed-circuit therapy in the treatment of chronic wounds”, he explains to SINC Wei GaoCALTECH biomedical engineer and co-author of the paper.
We hope this technology can speed healing and reduce the financial burden on patients.
Wei Gao, biomedical engineer at CIT
Chronic non-healing wounds affect more than 6.7 million people Only in the United States, which represents a medical expense of more than 25,000 million dollars (about 23,300 million euros) for those who suffer from diabetic ulcers, burns, surgical complications and other conditions.
The researchers hope that this treatment will be more effective and cheaper than current ones. / Wei Gao/California Institute of Technology
Gao tells SINC that “the price of the device could be around 50 dollars (46 euros)”. The tool would also “consist of a reusable electronic part and a disposable sensor patch, the latter valued at a few dollars.” The researcher hopes that “this technology can substantially speed up the healing process of chronic wounds and reduce the financial burden on patients”.
The system can be easily applied to human skin using a medical adhesive. It’s as easy as putting a bandage on a wound
On the other hand, current treatments to heal chronic wounds can be invasive. Besides, bacterial infections they are common, preventing proper healing and sometimes leading to serious illness and even death. The system designed by CALTECH “can be easily applied to human skin using a medical sticker. It is as easy as applying a bandage to an open wound”, Gao describes to SINC.
The device is a simple adhesive to apply. / Wei Gao/California Institute of Technology
Previous studies have already shown that electrical stimulation accelerates wound healing, but the necessary equipment can be bulky and impractical. Recent advances in bioelectronics have also enabled the use of flexible and portable biosensors to monitor wounds with physiological markers such as pH, temperature or glucose. However, the researchers wondered if these devices could be effective in practice without further testing.
The patch features a flexible printed circuit board to monitor healing and the occurrence of infection
The patch developed by CALTEC, with a flexible printed circuit board, can monitor various physiological biomarkers the progress of healing and the appearance of infections, as well as control drug administration using an electroactive hydrogel and applying voltage to promote healing at the wound site.
The patch was tested on mice with diabetes. / Wei Gao/California Institute of Technology
“This technology can be applied to a wide range of chronic wounds that do not heal,” the engineer told SINC. However, there are also other possible uses: “It could be used as a portable sensor on the skin to analyze body fluids such as sweat or interstitial fluid. The bioelectronic system can also be useful for personalized health management”.
The CALTECH scientists installed the device in freely moving diabetic mice to speed wound healing for 14 days. The results of the investigation demonstrated its great capacity of adhesion, elasticity and flexibility.
“We envision that the custom-designed, integrated wearable patch could serve as a more effective, fully controllable, and easy-to-implant platform for personalized monitoring and treatment of chronic wounds with minimal side effects,” the researchers conclude.
Gao, W. et al. “A stretchable wireless wearable bioelectronic system for multiplexed monitoring and combination treatment of infected chronic wounds”. Science Advances (March, 2023)
Rights: Creative Commons.