The innovation centres on a smart bandage that can be used to monitor the healing progress of chronic wounds and alert clinical staff to the early onset of infection (shown opposite). The device can be directly integrated along with conventional dressings but has the advantage of enabling the periodic scanning of the wound providing vital diagnostic detail that can enable the implementation of more effective treatments. Critically, despite the complexity of the wound matrix, the bandage possesses a component simplicity that can facilitate mass production at low cost.
The main issues at present relate developing a sensor which:
1. can be applied to a wide range of wounds – small to large
2. possess sufficient flexibility to map the contours of the wound
3. retain sufficient conductivity to enable clear and unambiguous electrochemical identification of biomarkers
4. is relatively simple (in terms of components and operation) to enable mass manufacture and hence disposability
The invention disclosed herein relates to the use of a patterned multilayer polymer film (carbon particles distributed throughout a polymer matrix (typically polycarbonate, polyethylene, ethylene-vinylacetate etc). These films are flexible, conductive and can be processed on a bulk scale (necessary for commercial viability). They can be pretreated to provide an electrochemical performance which is equivalent or superior to conventional electrode substrates. Polymer films doped with carbon particles have been used extensively in the electronics industry (ie. remote controls, electromagnetic shielding etc) but they have not been used as the sensing element in electrochemical systems. This is the first true application in which the films have been used where the carbon-polymer composite is the principal component. The research conducted by the inventors has demonstrated that films highly doped with carbon can be used as a complete sensing solution capable of detecting a range of biomarkers, ascorbate, urate, tyrosine, tryptophan etc and possess a flexibility unmatched by conventional electrodes .
The invention step in the current application was the use of the carbon-polymer composite to form a flexible multilayer assembly capable of being directly integrated with commercial dressings. While the device is shown to be capable of monitoring pH, the electrochemical performance can be tuned through the judicious introduction of catalysts at the film formulation stage.
Complications arising from Diabetic foot disease are the most common form of diabetes-related admission to hospitals and one of the major pathways to lower-limb amputation. Early identification and clinic referral is one of the main determinants in the deployment of an effective treatment but many patients only seek assistance once infection has taken hold. The smart bandage would provide telemetry of the wound condition and serve as an effective early warning system for the patients such that more effective treatments can be speedily implemented to improve the healing process. This provision should significantly improve quality of life for the patient.
School of Engineering
University of Ulster