Clinical trial of infection-detecting bandages begins

Tuesday 29th November 2016

Clinical trial of infection-detecting bandages begins


A clinical trial of a smart bandage which changes colour when it detects infections is beginning, using samples from burns patients from Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead.

The technology has potential to detect infection earlier, allowing improved treatment for burns patients as well as reducing the use of antibiotics, helping combat the threat of drug-resistant bacteria.

The trial will see swabs and used dressings taken from hundreds of patients to be used in laboratory tests to see how sensitive the bandages are to infections, and how specifically they react to infections they are designed to detect. The samples will also undergo tests by scientists looking at the activation of key genes in infection-causing bacteria.

The nature of burns wounds unfortunately means signs and symptoms of infections are common but true infection is rare. A colour-changing bandage will provide an early-warning that infection is developing, allowing better and timelier treatment for patients. It will also prevent unnecessary tests in patients who do not have infection. Existing diagnosis methods take up to 48 hours and require removing wound dressings, a painful and distressing process for the patient which can slow healing and cause scarring.

Currently in cases of suspected infection precautionary courses of antibiotics are often prescribed. The colour-changing bandage would reduce this need, helping tackle the global problem of bacteria developing antibiotic resistance and saving the NHS money on drugs.

Edward Pickles, medical director at Queen Victoria Hospital, said: “These bandages could make a real difference for patients, including earlier healing and reduced scarring.  The trials will help us to find out exactly how well they work using real samples from patients. We hope as many people as possible agree to take part in the trial.”

If the trials demonstrate that the bandages are effective then manufacturing could begin as early as next year.


For media enquiries, please contact Clare Pirie 07717 806680,

Clinical trials are being conducted at four UK hospitals; Southmead Hospital Bristol, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital East Grinstead.

The technology, developed at the University of Bath, will undergo tests by scientists at the University of Bath and the University of Brighton.

The trial has been funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Queen Victoria Hospital is a specialist NHS hospital providing life-changing reconstructive surgery, burns care and rehabilitation services for people across the South of England. As a centre of excellence, with an international reputation for pioneering advanced techniques and treatments, research to improve patients’ lives is a vital part of the work at Queen Victoria