Swiss Team Develops New Bandage for Severe Burns
A new bandage has been developed to help burns heal faster and avoid infections.
According to the National Institutes of Health, there are an average of 3,800 burn-related deaths in the U.S. each year. A number of those fatalities stem from infections, which are even prevalent in non-life-threatening burn cases. That’s because burns destroy various layers of skin that serve as our body’s primary defense against infectious microbes, according to Pennsylvania State’s Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. There are already several effective ways to treat a burn, but science is continually finding new methods and technologies (like using video games to address burn pain).
The latest development comes from Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. The research team has developed bandages that could greatly reduce infections in burn patients.
The growing epidemic of antibiotic-resistant infections was the basis behind this research. As the Harvard School of Medicine explained, these superbugs cause as many as 2 million illnesses each year. That’s why the EPFL collective chose to work with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said causes 51,000 infections annually. Not only that but 13 percent of these cases are multi-drug-resistant.
EPFL’s bandage is actually based on an earlier dressing developed by Switzerland’s Centre hospitalier universitaire vaudois in 2005. That bandage – detailed in the journal The Lancet – was effective at increasing the rate of healing in most burns, but offered little in the way of microbial protection. To address that shortcoming, the EPFL team added dendrimers to the collagen gauze strip. Starpharma explained that these man-made molecules are used to help deliver drugs to specific areas, like a wound site. In the case of EPFL’s bandage, half of the dendrimers leave the bandage and attack the microbes around and within the wound. The other half stay put, as the team explained that bandages are often the real breeding ground for infections. In the end, the bandage speeds up wounds’ scarring process, and that prevents bacteria from multiplying in the first place.
The road ahead
In an accompanying press release, Lee Ann Laurent-Applegate, who heads CHUV’s Regenerative Therapy Unit, said that technology like these bandages is vital. Burn patients face different obstacles during their recovery, and the EPFL’s bandage is one way to streamline the process. One of the biggest roadblocks is that burn patients require continuous dressing changes, and that can further increase the risk for infections. And because of the threat of antibiotic-resistant bugs, doctors can’t always prescribe helpful drugs for burn patients. Laurent-Applegate believes that with bandages like those from the EPFL and CHUV, doctors will have more tools for preventing infections.
The EPFL bandage is currently undergoing a trial run in Zurich before it will be implemented in other clinics across the world. In the meantime, you can rely on Advanced Tissue for all of your wound care related needs.