A new wearable sensor can provide an early warning that a wound is becoming infected. The sensor, still in the experimental stages, is made using a DNA hydrogel that is degraded by excretions from certain infectious bacteria. The degradation of the gel changes the dielectric permittivity of the device, which is detected by an electrode that then sends a wireless signal to a nearby smartphone. The device’s designers have dubbed the system WINDOW, for “wireless infection detection on wounds.”
“We surprisingly found that WINDOW could detect wound infection in mice within 24 hours, before any visible signs were obvious,” says Ze Xiong, a bioelectronics researcher in the Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the National Univ. of Singapore.
Wound care is a major medical need, with one 2018 study published in Value in Health (doi: 10.1016/j.jval.2017.07.007) estimating that between $28.1 to $96.8 billion is spent on wound management each year for Medicare beneficiaries in the U.S. alone. Infections can be devastating for patients, especially if not caught early.
Wound care is a promising application for wearable sensors, Xiong believes,...
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