NEW livestock bandage technology is showing huge potential in early trials and has the ability to decrease the risk of infection and improve the survival rate of burnt animals.
Thousands of stock were killed when fire ravaged much of the country earlier this year with many euthanised due to the nonviable nature of ongoing monitoring, injury and infection risk.
But the team at the ARC Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP) alongside RMIT University, Victoria, have developed new bandages that allow wounds to be remotely monitored.
The silk mesh patches are embedded with nanodiamonds that allow a wound temperature to be taken without removing the dressing. A window on the bandage also provides a view of new blood vessels forming to also track recovery.
Outside of burns, the bandages could also be applied after castration and mulesing to promote more effective healing.
CNBP chief investigator and senior research fellow Dr Christina Bursill tested the bandages on mice and found they improved wound healing and were completely biocompatible. Further tests will be undertaken on pigs in the future.
"It's really exciting because the wound healing field doesn't have this kind of innovation in it at the moment; there is really no good way to measure things like temperature or the success of wound healing, the only way is to remove dressing which might be painful or unnecessary," she said.
"There is really nothing in wound healing that can not only help support the wound healing but also monitor the success or gauge when there is an infection."
It is hoped that eventually the wound temperature could be remotely received by a GPS signal or something of a small portable manner.
"It could help a farmer potentially know if one particular animal was undergoing an infection because when you have a wound that is infected its temperature will go up three or five degrees more so you would get a sense that okay I've got to go out and treat that animal," she said.
"A farmer could know that quite easily. You get ahead of things a bit better...so treatment could be earlier or it might just save their lives."
Dr Bursill said the bandage itself was very inexpensive to make meaning it could be a practical option for producers in the future if it was commercialised.
She predicted it could have saved a lot of animals in recent fires.
"At the moment the farmers don't have any mechanism for assessing the well being of their sheep in terms of their wound healing," she said.
"I believe they had to go and euthanise them (in the fires) if they had any burn damage whatsoever. If they can track if the wounds are going to heal successfully it might help perhaps save some lives."
The CNBP features a team of up to 200 scientists of multi-disciplinary fields focused on creating light-based imaging and sensing tools that can measure the finer details of cells.
These bandages also have the ability to gradually dissolve over a period of time.
"The ones we tested here on our mouse model healed over a period of 10 days and the silk scaffold gradually degraded over the seven days they then disappear without a trace," she said.