New Wound Dressing Concept Relies on Bacteria's Ability to Commit Suicide

Bob Michaels

July 28, 2010

1 Min Read
New Wound Dressing Concept Relies on Bacteria's Ability to Commit Suicide

Scientists in the chemistry department at the University of Bath (UK) have demonstrated that a simple vesicle (nanocapsule) system can be used in wound dressings to control bacterial growth and infection. According to the researchers, this "nano-Trojan Horse" material can automatically detect infection and respond to it by releasing an antibiotic into the wound. In addition, the material can change color, alerting medical personnel to the presence of infection.

As reported in Nanowerk, senior lecturer Toby Jenkins and his colleagues have shown that pathogenic bacteria can be used to destroy themselves by releasing toxins that rupture nanocapsules containing an antimicrobial agent. Thus far, the researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of their system for two pathogenic species of bacteria, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. The scientists' work is detailed in "A Thin Film Detection/Response System for Pathogenic Bacteria" in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Conventional dressings must be removed if the skin becomes infected. In contrast, the Bath scientists' nanocapsule dressing releases antibiotics automatically when the wound becomes infected. Thus, the dressing does not have to be removed to treat a skin infection, reducing the risk of scarring. In addition to reducing treatment costs, this wound dressing will reduce the amount of time required to analyze bacterial infections--a particularly crucial advantage in the case of burns, in which the speedy detection of infection can save lives.

While problems pertaining to vesicle stability, tuning of response, manufacturability, and immunological response remain to be solved, the researchers hope to develop a prototype dressing within the next two to three years.

The following video explains the scientists' approach.

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