Wound infections may be detected using a gel-based sensor

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A group of Singaporean researchers has created a gel-based sensor for detecting infections in exposed wounds. The group details its sensor and how well it functioned when tested in a report published in Science Advances.

Infections at surgical sites are now the most prevalent kind of infection in persons admitted to hospitals. The conventional method of detection is a visual examination or lab culture analysis.

Only when a significant number of people have been infected does it become feasible to do the first. The researchers have devised a sensor that can be put directly on a wound and responds quickly in this latest endeavor.

The team's sensor is a DNA hydrogel that is destroyed by a DNase enzyme released by bacteria. The hydrogel has integrated electronics that monitor its breakdown and transmit an alert to a smartphone if it falls under specified criteria that signal an infection. "Wireless infection detection on wounds" is the term used by the researchers (WINDOW).

WINDOW necessitated the development of a DNA-based hydrogel that could withstand humid conditions like those prevalent on the skin. The sensor was first tested on swabs taken from infected and healthy individuals who had diabetes-related foot sores.

They discovered that their WINDOW gadget could distinguish between the two in the vast majority of situations. Sensor implantation on open wounds in test mice revealed that the sensor could detect infection within 24 hours after sensor insertion—even before any visual symptoms of a disease were present in the lesion.

The researchers admit that their sensor has a limited lifespan of around 24 hours and must be replaced with a new one after that.

Only Staphylococcus aureus has been tested thus far, but many other bacteria generate DNase; therefore, the sensor should work for them as well. Researchers hope that similar sensors may be used to identify enzymes caused by bacteria from different organisms in the future.

Reference:

A wireless and battery-free wound infection sensor based on DNA hydrogel Published in science advances

SCIENCE ADVANCES•19 Nov 2021•Vol 7, Issue 47•DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj1617

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