Give Now  »

Noon Edition

The Bacteria-Killing Bandage

Over the past half century, antibiotics have made bacterial infections much easier to treat. But for people with burn injuries and other serious wounds, infection is still a big problem.

So doctors and scientists are always on the lookout for ways to ward off harmful bacteria.

New Bandages

Scientists at the University of Bath, in England, may be onto something. They've invented a bandage that lures bacteria in and then kills them.

The bandages are laced with microscopic capsules designed to look just like the types of cells that harmful bacteria like to target. When the bacteria pounce, the vessels burst open and douse their would be assassins with antibiotics, killing them.

How The Bandages Work?

In lab tests, the booby trapped bandages have worked well against a few kinds of toxic bacteria. The researchers tested the bandages by exposing them to two types of harmful bacteria and one harmless type.

The harmless, non aggressive bacterium thrived, growing rapidly on the fabric.

But the harmful, toxic bacteria did not. They were kept in check, the researchers believe, by the antibiotics released when the bacterium attacked the bandage's cell like vessels.

Will They Work In Real Life?

It remains to be seen, though, if the bandages will work in real life situations, where wounds attract and harbor many different types of harmful bacteria.

Some harmful bacteria may not make the sort of vessel eroding toxins the researchers are counting on. And some benign bacteria may trigger the vessels at the wrong time. Plus, some bacteria live deep inside a wound where a bandage would have no effect.

Ultimately, further research will determine whether or not the booby-trapped bandages will help defeat harmful bacteria.

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About A Moment of Science