This Colour-Changing Burns Dressing Will Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance

This Colour-Changing Burns Dressing Will Help Fight Antibiotic Resistance

There’s a new type of medical dressing that could cut the unnecessary use of antibiotics.

Scientists from Bath University have developed a burn dressing that changes colour when it detects an infection, releasing fluorescent dye from tiny capsules when toxins are discharged by bacteria in a wound.

This allows doctors to identify bacterial infections early, making for speedier treatments, especially with burn injuries (children with burn wounds are very susceptible to bacterial infections thanks to immature immune systems). The researchers went so far to say these new dressings could be life saving.

Doctors find it very difficult to diagnose infections quickly (existing methods take up to 48 hours) and easily without removing the dressing, which can be painful and create more scarring.

For this reason, antibiotics are typically diagnosed before an infection is even confirmed. But when there’s no infection – and therefore no reason for antibiotics – it can lead to bacteria becoming extra resistant to the medicine. And antibiotic resistance is a major health issue.

For their work, the Bath team has been awarded almost £1 million by the Medical Research Council in the UK to test the responsiveness of the prototype dressing to samples taken from the wounds of burns victims.

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