The mechanism of how the bandage work is brilliantly simple. The dressing portion of the bandage contains a hydrogel material infused with tiny capsules of non-toxic fluorescent dye. When bacteria enter a wound and multiply to cause an infection, they release a toxin that enters the dye-containing capsules. The toxin causes the dye capsules to burst open and release their fluorescent dye, which then begins to glow when it mixes with the bandage’s gel matrix
The identification of these toxins is a critical component of the intelligent dressing, providing an early detection system for infections that could save lives. These toxins often are released when a bacterial population grows large enough to form a biofilm and overwhelm the immune system. “We believe that this transition normally happens several hours, if not longer, before any clinical symptoms become evident,” said biophysical chemistry professor Toby Jenkins. In experiments, this toxin detection system allows the bandage to detect an infection within four hours of biofilm formation. This early detection may save lives by allowing a doctor to prescribe a course of antibiotics during the early stages of an infection when it is still easily treatable.