The bandage, developed by researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, consists of electrically conductive fibres coated in a gel.
The gel can be individually loaded with infection- fighting antibiotics, tissue-regenerating growth factors, painkillers or other medications, researchers said.
A microcontroller no larger than a postage stamp, which could be triggered by a smartphone or other wireless device, sends small amounts of voltage through a chosen fibre.
That voltage heats the fibre and its hydrogel, releasing whatever cargo it contains.
A single bandage could accommodate multiple medications tailored to a specific type of wound, researchers said.
While offering the ability to precisely control the dose and delivery schedule of those medications. That combination of customisation and control could substantially improve or accelerate the healing process, said Ali Tamayol, assistant professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
“This is the first bandage that is capable of dose- dependent drug release. You can release multiple drugs with different release profiles.
“That is a big advantage in comparison with other systems. What we did here was come up with a strategy for building a bandage from the bottom up,” Tamayol said.
Researchers ran a series of experiments. In one, they applied a smart bandage loaded with growth factor to wounded mice.
When compared with a dry bandage, the team’s version regrew three times as much of the blood-rich tissue critical to the healing process.
Another experiment showed that an antibiotic-loaded version of the bandage could eradicate infection-causing bacteria.
The study was published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials.