Researchers from the Binghamton University, State University of New York, have developed new electronics that will allow for long-term real-time monitoring of wounds on patients. The flexible electronics were inspired by human skin.
RELATED: BIOMIMICRY: 9 WAYS ENGINEERS HAVE BEEN 'INSPIRED' BY NATURE
"We eventually hope that these sensors and engineering accomplishments can help advance healthcare applications and provide a better quantitative understanding in disease progression, wound care, general health, fitness monitoring and more," said Matthew Brown, a Ph.D. student at Binghamton University.
The biosensor is capable of monitoring lactate and oxygen on the skin. Biosensors are devices that combine a biological component with a physiochemical detector to observe and detect changes in the body. While biosensors is a rapidly growing field, there are still limitations to what they can achieve.
"We are focused on developing next-generation platforms that can integrate with biological tissue (e.g., skin, neural and cardiac tissue)," said Brown.
Sensor mimics skin
Under the guidance of Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering Ahyeon Koh, Brown, master's students Brandon Ashley and Youjoong Park, and undergraduate student Sally Kuan designed a sensor that is structured similarly to that of the skin's micro architecture.
The open-mesh electromechanical sensor has gold sensor cables that can achieve similar mechanics to that of skin elasticity.
The scientists hope that the sensor would be an unobtrusive element to its wearer. The more a sensor can meld seamlessly with the patient the better the quality of data the sensor can collect.
"This topic was interesting to us because we were very interested in real-time, on-site evaluation of wound healing progress in a near future," said Brown.
"Both lactate and oxygen are critical biomarkers to access wound-healing progression."
Sensor picks up invisible processes
There is still some significant research that needs to be done on this sensor and in the biosensor field more widely. But its creators hope that it can lead to more multifunctional sensors to help with wound healing.
"The bio-mimicry structured sensor platform allows free mass transfer between biological tissue and bio-interfaced electronics," said Koh.
"Therefore, this intimately bio-integrated sensing system is capable of determining critical biochemical events while being invisible to the biological system or not evoking an inflammatory response."
Wound healing is a complex process undertaken by the body. When a person or animal suffers a skin wound, epithelial cells, which make up the outer layer of the skin, move towards the affected area in order to seal the injury. This healing process can be impaired with very large ruptures or in older people.
Wounds deadly for vulnerable
For older people, people with other existing health conditions or for patients in areas with limited medical cal wounds can be deadly. Fast wound healing is critical to prevent infection that can lead to death.
Many scientists are working towards new methods of dealing with wounds. These range from ‘cellular reprogramming’ to digitally cell injections.