Dr Jones, Reader in Molecular and Medical Microbiology at the university’s School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, said: “The dressing technology we are helping to develop here could be of real benefit to many patients. This could not only help clinicians provide the best possible treatment for patients with burns, but could also help us understand how wound infections begin and how they affect the normal healing process.”
Professor Tony Metcalfe, Director of Research at the Blond McIndoe and the University of Brighton’s Professor in Burns and Wound Healing Research, said: “This is an exciting project that aims to give surgeons an understanding of how infected a wound is during the early stages of treatment. As such, this dressing with its rapid detection would enable surgeons to modify treatments and improve the outcome for a patient with burn wounds.”
Dr Toby Jenkins, Reader in Biophysical Chemistry at Bath, is leading the project. He explained: “Our medical dressing works by releasing fluorescent dye from nanocapsules triggered by the presence of disease-causing bacteria.
“The nanocapsules mimic skin cells in that they only break open when toxic bacteria are present; they aren’t affected by the harmless bacteria that normally live on healthy skin.
“Using this dressing will allow clinicians to quickly identify infections without removing it, meaning that patients can be diagnosed and treated faster. It could really help to save lives.”
Amber Young, Clinical Lead at the South West Paediatric Burns Centre at Bristol Children’s Hospital and Clinical Lead at the Healing Foundation Children’s Burns Research Centre, is the clinical consultant on the project. She will be taking wound swabs and blister fluid from young burns patients for Dr Jenkins to test how well the new dressing detects infection in real patients.
She said: “Children are at particular risk of serious infection from even a small burn. Being able to detect infection quickly and accurately will make a real difference to the lives of thousands of young children by allowing doctors to provide the right care at the right time.”
Dr Jones said: “Locally, the partnership between the University of Brighton, the Queen Victoria Hospital, and the Blond McIndoe Research Foundation makes us uniquely placed to help drive forward these kind of innovations in healthcare, especially in areas dealing with wound healing and infection. We are delighted to be able to apply our expertise to this important project.”
Once the dressing has been proven to effectively detect infection in swab samples from patients, the team plans to work with healthcare company Hartmann to test the dressing for use in hospitals in around four years.