February 2022

SMART BANDAGE DETECTS BIOMARKERS FOR ONSITE CHRONIC WOUND MONITORING

The VeCare platform comprises (clockwise from bottom left) a chip, wound sensor, bandage, and app for real-time, point-of-care chronic wound monitoring. Image courtesy of NUS.

A research team led by Lim Chwee Teck, PhD, from the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Department of Biomedical Engineering and Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (iHealthtech), in collaboration with clinical partners from Singapore General Hospital, has developed a smart wearable sensor that can conduct real-time, point-of-care assessment of chronic wounds, such as diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs), wirelessly via an app. The sensor technology can detect temperature, pH, bacteria type, and inflammatory factors specific to chronic wounds within 15 minutes, enabling fast and accurate wound assessment and personalized wound management.

The point-of-care wound assessment platform, called VeCare, consists of an innovative wound sensing bandage, an electronic chip, and a mobile app. The bandage comprises a wound contact layer, a breathable outer barrier, a microfluidic wound fluid collector, and a flexible immunosensor. VeCare is said to be the first wound assessment platform that can detect bacteria type and probe inflammatory factors, in addition to measuring acidity and temperature, within a single 15-minute test. The immune-sensing bandage enables rapid assessment of wound microenvironment, inflammation, and infection state by detecting multiple chronic wound-specific biomarkers from wound fluid using an electrochemical system. The microfluidic wound fluid collector attached to the sensor directs and boosts wound fluid delivery to the sensor by up to 180%. The design ensures reliable sensing performance regardless of the ulcer shape or size.

In addition, a chip integrated with flexible electronics is connected to the sensor to transmit data wirelessly to an app for real-time wound assessment and analysis onsite, enabling doctors to monitor the patient’s chronic wounds remotely. The chip component, powered with a rechargeable battery, can be reused for subsequent applications.  The bandage complements the patient’s existing medical treatment while facilitating timely medical intervention for wound healing processes.

“The VeCare platform is easily scalable and customizable to accommodate different panels of biomarkers to monitor various types of wounds,” said Lim. “The aim is to have an effective and easy to use diagnostic and prognostic tool for precise and data-driven clinical management of patients.”

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