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Revolutionary New Wound Dressing Will Save Burn Victims' Lives

Mar 25, 2013 01:12 PM EDT

Researchers have developed a revolutionary wound dressing technology that can detect infection and alert physicians of the infected wound by a simple color change.

The technology was developed with child burn victims in mind and may prove to be lifesaving for the young children with serious burns, in whom infections can quickly spread, often becoming fatal, according to the researchers behind the new wound dressing.

When a child comes back with a small burn, with a temperature, we don't know if that child has a serious infection in the burn or whether they simply have a cough or cold," said Dr. Amber Young, consultant pediatric anesthetist at Frenchay Hospital in a video posted by University of Bath. "At the moment we have purely guess work to go on."

The wound dressing utilizes dye-loaded nanocapsules, which are activated when they come into contact with toxins produced by harmful bacteria, releasing dye that can been seen under ultraviolet light, which will indicate infection.

The system can distinguish harmful bacteria from benign bacteria normally found on the skin.

While only in prototype stages, the wound dressing's developers are excited to move forward with their system.

"We are hoping that in two to three years from now we will be able to start the first tests on healthy human volunteers," Toby Jenkins, a doctor of biophysical chemistry at University of Bath who led the design.

Currently, testing for infections required removing standard wound dressing, which be painful for burn victims and can prolong the healing process.

Also, current methods to diagnose a wound infection can take up to 48 hours, which poses a sizable problem for physicians trying to keep a patient infection free.

"However, our burns dressing gives a simple color change under UV light if a pathogenic, disease-causing bacteria is present in the burn, meaning clinicians can be alerted quickly to a potential infection," said Jenkins, according to a BBC report.

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