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UK experts to help create smart dressings


An international effort to create a revolutionary dressing that can detect and treat infections is being aided by a team of academics from Bath, and a group of Bristol-based burns specialists, it has been revealed.

The Bath University academics and the burns team from the Southwest UK Paediatric Burns Centre at Frenchay Hospital are both involved in the £3.7m EC-funded Bacteriosafe project.

According to trade magazine The Engineer, the dressing will work by releasing antibiotics from nanocapsules when disease-causing pathogenic bacteria are present.

The antibiotics will then target the injury before an infection is able to take hold.

Researchers are also developing a way in which the dressing could change colour when an infection is present, so healthcare professionals are more likely to be aware of a problem earlier.

Dr Toby Jenkins, project leader from Bath University, told the trade magazine that the nanocapsules will contain lipids, the same molecules that make up cell membranes, and that photo-polymerisable fatty acids will help to strengthen the capsule.

According to initial tests carried out, signs suggest the nanocapsules are stable enough to release the antibiotics when pathogenic bacteria is present.


Readers' comments (2)

  • I worry that this may be a retrograde step... Tissue Viability has long promoted the avoidance of topical antibiotics in favour of antimicrobials such as honey or silver dressings.
    How will the dressing account for factors such as age of the wound. An acute wound may become infected with a lower level of pathogens than a chronic wound such as a leg ulcer which may have a heavy bacterial burden which is not compromising the patient.
    I also hope that the research team consider the efficacy of topical antibiotics in the presence of biofilms
    I will watch this space with interest...!

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  • Richard White

    I agree with Kate Purser, this must be approached with some caution. I would want to learn a whole lot more before making any judgement. As wounds healing by secondary intent are always colonised (at least), then one might reasonably argue that pathogens, or potential pathogens are always present. This does not mean that all such wounds be treated as if infected. We have not yet learned the lessons of inappropriate treatment of wound 'infection' and C diff. I'm looking for some clear objectives for this development, and some authoritative statements from clinical microbiologists.

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