Researchers create electronic bandage that helps wounds heal four times faster
A bandage that generates a gentle electrical current could help wounds heal four times faster, research suggests.The electronic device, which has yet to be named, was wrapped around the chests of rats who had a cut on their backs. Every time the rodents took a breath, an electrical pulse was generated, which was found to speed up their healing process.
This caused skin-healing cells, known as fibroblasts, to flock to the injured area, which encouraged the production of collagen and new skin cells. The study was carried out by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States (U.S.), and led by recent graduate Yin Long. Diabetic foot, leg ulcers and surgical wounds are among the skin injuries that often do not heal.
They affect more than 6.5million people every year in the US, the authors wrote in the journal ACS Nano. It is unclear how common they are in the United Kingdom (UK). Electrical stimulation to promote wound healing was first recognised in the 1960s to reduce swelling, boost blood flow and stimulate the growth of new tissue.
But it typically requires ‘clumsy electrical systems’ that can only be used in hospitals, the authors wrote. After creating the self-powered e-band, the researchers tested it on groups of rats with a 1cm cut on their backs. Other rodents wore the same band but the electrical current was ‘turned off’ – these acted as the controls.
After two days, the rats who wore the ‘turned on’ device had almost completely healed, while the control animals still had their wounds intact.
The researchers then repeated the experiment on wounds that took up the width of the animals’ backs. They found the e-band led to ‘complete closure’ of the wound within three days, while 46 per cent of the controls’ injuries were still ‘open’.
It took between 10 and 12 days for the control wounds to heal to the same extent, according to the researchers. The band also appeared to be safe, with the rodents suffering no side effects. The low level of electricity that was generated also meant the animals showed no signs of being in pain or uncomfortable.The researchers hope a similar device could one day be used to improve the appearance of chickenpox scars, acne and rosacea. They argue existing methods of promoting healing, such as bandages, dressing and oxygen therapy, are limited in their effectiveness.
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