Researchers at the University of Bath are developing a new type of bandage that could selectively kill harmful bacteria in wounds, while allowing helpful bacteria to continue flourishing and assisting in the healing and disinfecting of the damaged area. The “smart bandage” contains tiny saclike structures that mimic cells and induce harmful bacteria to attack, then burst open to release anti-bacterial agents that kill the organism. In the short term, this new biotechnology will help wounds fight off infection and heal faster, while in the long term slowing the resistance to antibiotics that bacterial strains so quickly develop.
While antibacterial soaps and salves have been very effective at killing bacteria and reducing infections thus far, more and more anti-biotic resistant strains of bacteria are evolving causing antibiotics to rapidly losing their effectiveness. These smart bandages could slow this process significantly by selectively killing only harmful bacteria, reducing the time it takes for a bacterial strain to develop resistance. Besides the immediate reduction in the amount of bandages needed to heal a wound, this technology could also greatly reduce the amount of time and resources needed to constantly develop new antibiotics to stay ahead of the evolution of anti-biotic resistance. Additionally, smart bandages could reduce the amount of time a person must spend in a hospital healing from a wound, further reducing energy usage and increasing the efficiency of our healthcare system.
The microscopic, sac-like structures developed for the smart bandage mimic human cells, which causes harmful bacteria to attack them. When the harmful bacteria release toxins or enzymes to break open the cell wall of these cell-mimicking structures, antibacterial agents are released, immediately killing the offending bacteria. Helpful bacteria that do not attack the synthetic cells remain unaffected and can go about their task of fending off infection and helping to heal the damaged area.
Volutionary pressure on beacterial strains for resistance to antibiotics; development of infections in wounds.Edit Summary