How Nanotech Bandages Could Supercharge First Aid

100343_gettyimages579203958It all started as a painless callus on Donna Morrow’s left foot. Since she knew her diabetes made her susceptible to foot ulcers, she saw her podiatrist, who shaved down the callus as a precaution. A few months later, her foot swelled so much she could barely walk. The callus had unfurled into gaping, infected ulcers whose appearance made her sick to her stomach. The former retiree from outside Philadelphia, now a director and founder of Victory Nutrition, spent months hooked to an antibiotic IV drip, hardly able to stand or shower, and underwent three skin grafts. “Is this ever going to end?” she wondered. Fears of amputation plagued her.

Morrow’s foot took more than a year to heal. She’s not alone: About half of all diabetics suffer from nerve damage, or neuropathy, which might mean a blister or a cut escapes notice until it progresses into something more serious. Diabetes also can lower blood circulation and immunity, which may slow healing. Now, researchers are devising solutions by upgrading run-of-the-mill balms, dressings and sutures with nanotechnology designed to speed and improve healing. The latest innovations include ointments that contain nanoparticles loaded with substances that trigger the migration of new skin cells to a targeted area, as well as scaffolds for these cells to populate. One “smart bandage” fluoresces to alert doctors of infection long before clinical symptoms appear.

By Melissa Pandika | OZY

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