Improving Chronic Wound healing with Intelligent Dressings

Lead Research Organisation: Cardiff University
Department Name: Dentistry


One hundred and fifty years ago, Koch designed methods to look at bacteria in specimens. The methods remain unchanged to this day. Identifying bacteria in clinical samples is very labour intensive and takes a long time - up to ten days. This time delay in receiving any information on a clinical specimen means that the doctor has to best guess which bacteria are causing the infection. For this reason, the prescription of antibiotics to treat the infection is often by guess work and may be wrong.Incorrect prescribing has contributed to the emergence of bacteria which resist conventional therapy. This is now a major world health problem. Our research plans to make assessment of bacterial infections rapid, on site in the clinic and, in the future by home-testing similar to diabetes monitoring. Knowing which and how many bacteria are present within a wound will allow the doctor to prescribe effective antibiotics quickly and to each person's needs for the best treatment.Our research programme will develop two new test systems to measure the number and type of bacteria in a leg wound. As a model, we will study bacteria in chronic skin wounds for two reasons. Firstly, these wounds represent a huge clinical problem, affecting three in every hundred people over 60 years old in the UK and costing 1 billion for the National Health Service to treat every year. Secondly, the information obtained will directly inform the best treatment for each patient, avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use.Two systems will be researched, one to be left on the wound over time at home and the other for the doctor to use for an immediate report in the clinic. The intelligent dressing materials will work by measuring bacterial indicators by using biological proteins to create a digital instrument signal. The dressings will be tested first in the laboratory and then with patients suffering from leg wounds that are not healing.The intelligent dressings will help reduce antibiotic use, indicating when wounds need treatment. The intelligent real-time systems also help to research the properties essential in new generations of antibiotics and explore the mechanisms that lead to bacteria becoming resistant to these treatments.


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