A versatile matrix
In the end, the team created a “smart wound dressing” by embedding various electronic components within a hydrogel sheet. These components included tiny drug reservoirs and temperature sensors that were spaced out consistently.By either inserting patterned tubes or drilling tiny holes through the matrix, the researchers also created pathways for drugs to flow through the hydrogel.
They tried the dressing on different parts of the body and found that even when it was very stretched, it kept keeping track of the temperature of the skin and releasing drugs based on the sensor readings.According to Yuk, the technology could be used immediately as a stretchable, on-demand treatment for burns and other skin conditions.
Yuk says, “It’s a very adaptable matrix.”The device’s one-of-a-kind capability is that, when a sensor detects something different, such as an abnormal rise in temperature, it can select a specific drug from one of the reservoirs to be released on demand to that specific location. The drug can then diffuse in the hydrogel matrix for sustained release over time.