News broke today about a chameleon bandage promising to help with wound healing. The only thing that this new bandage has with chameleons is that it changes colour. There wasn’t anything reptilian about the bandage.
CSIRO materials scientist, Louise Van der Werff from Monash University is helping develop a bandage that changes colour in response to temperature changes to provide information of the wound it covers. She aims to improve the monitoring and treatment of chronic wounds, such as ulcers which effects up to 3 per cent of the population, mainly the elderly, obese, or who have diabetes.
These wounds can last for months and in some cases, years, because of recurring infections and can reduce the quality of life for people and costs the Australian healthcare system more than $500 million each year. The average cost of treatment is $25,000 per wound.
An increase in temperature of a wound could indicate an infection or inflammation whereas a decrease in temperature could mean a decrease of blood supply to the wound. These are developments that hamper the healing process of a wound. Currently, the temperature monitoring of a wound is performed with infrared technologies which can be out of reach for people living at home or in remote areas. It is expected that this chameleon bandage will make monitoring the temperature easier and cheaper.
The exact make up of the material for the bandage is yet to be unwrapped but it is sensitive to a changes in temperature less than 0.5 degrees Celsius.