We may be on the cusp of a smart bandage that can monitor infections and, upon finding any, let its wearer know that the time for a stinging peroxide wash may have arrived.
Ed Goluch is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Northeastern University, where he was working on how bacterial cells behave. He created sensors to track how various individual cells acted and what makes one more resistant to an antibiotic than another. That’s around when he had his eureka! moment.
Using the same sort of technology found in computer chips, he and graduate student Thaddeus Webster decided to try creating an electrochemical sensor that could find a specific bacteria that’s particularly problematic for folks: Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Though it’s treatable, it can kill if left untreated. The sensor can detect it before any symptoms appear.
This is just a first step, albeit a big one. Other types of infection like a staph infection are harder to catch since they don't secrete specific molecule the way P. aeruginosa does. Regardless, it’s a step in the right direction.
Hopefully we’ll soon be able to replace the Flintstones on our bandages with life-saving sensors.