Open wounds can quickly develop into something more serious if they become infected with bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus or Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Now scientists are engineering wound dressings that can signal infection by giving off a warning glow. Suspended within the dressings are tiny nanospheres containing a fluorescent dye that is initially inactive (right circle). However, if infected, bacterial toxins cause the nanosphere membranes to break down, releasing the dye which gives off a fluorescent glow (left circle). The colour-changing dressings are at least 50 times more sensitive to the bacteria than cells in our blood, making them an effective and early detection sensor for healing wounds such as burns and scalds.
Written by Manisha Lalloo
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