A glow in the dark wound dressing that can help nurses spot infections has been developed, and it could be ready for use on patients within two years.
Scientists have developed a special gel, which will be used in the dressings and contains molecules, which bind to bacteria.
This activates a fluorescent dye which, when illuminated by an ultraviolet lamp, emits a pinkish glow when harmful levels of bacteria are present.
Tests using the gel on laboratory-grown human skin showed that it could also remove some infectious bacteria.
The new dressing is expected to help doctors treat chronic wounds, such as ulcers in diabetic patients, which are easily infected, and army medics could also use it to identify soldiers with infected battlefield injuries.
“If you know you’ve got infection it’s going to change how you treat your soldiers, it’s going to change how you’re going to treat those patients in the home,” the Daily Mail quoted Professor Sheila MacNeil, one of the researchers at the University of Sheffield, as saying.
“If it’s a high level infection, they’re going to need antibiotics rapidly. If it’s a low level infection the best thing to do with a chronic wound is hold off on the antibiotics, clean the wound out, reduce the bacteria.
“We could get to an early-stage clinical trial in two to three years,” she stated.
As well as shining a spotlight on bacteria, the gel can rid a wound of up to 80 percent of surface bugs in around three hours.
“The availability of these gels would help clinicians and wound care nurses to make rapid, informed decisions about wound management, and help reduce the overuse of antibiotics,” project leader Dr Steve Rimmer, also from the University of Sheffield, added.