Smart Wound Dressings With Built-in Healing Sensors
Researchers have developed smart wound dressings with built-in nanosensors that glow to alert patients when a wound is not healing properly. The multifunctional, antimicrobial dressings feature fluorescent sensors that glow brightly under UV light if infection starts to set in and can be used to monitor healing progress.

The smart dressings, harness the powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties of magnesium hydroxide. They are cheaper to produce than silver-based dressings but equally as effective in fighting bacteria and fungi, with their antimicrobial power lasting up to a week.

Though magnesium is known to be antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and highly biocompatible, there has been little practical research on how it could be used on medically-relevant surfaces like dressings and bandages.The new study is the first to develop fluorescent magnesium hydroxide nanosheets that could contour to the curves of bandage fibers.

The research team synthesised the nanosheets - which are 10,000 to 100,000 times thinner than a human hair - and embedded them onto nanofibres. The magnesium hydroxide nanosheets respond to changes in pH, which makes them ideal for use as sensors to track healing. Healthy skin is naturally slightly acidic while infected wounds are moderately alkaline.

Under UV light, the nanosheets glow brightly in alkaline environments and fade in acidic conditions, indicating the different pH levels that mark the stages of wound healing. The nanosheets are easily integrated onto any biocompatible nanofibre, which means they can then be deposited onto standard cotton bandages. Laboratory tests showed the magnesium hydroxide nanosheets were non-toxic to human cells, while destroying emerging pathogens.

The researcher said the process to make the fluorescent nanosheets was simple to scale for potential mass production. "Normally, antimicrobial wound dressings start to lose their performance after a few days but our studies show these new dressings could last up to seven days," he said. "And because magnesium is so abundant compared to silver, our advanced dressings could be up to 20 times cheaper."

Source:
https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acsami.1c05908
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