Research & Innovation Services

Novel Responsive Antimicrobial Dressing

KTA Proof of Concept Award

Department of Chemistry and the South West UK Children's Burn Centre, North Bristol NHS Trust
Dr Toby Jenkins
“A good working relationship between scientists and clinicians is fundamental in helping the translation from scientific concept to bedside application.  The benefits are great in working with a university that undertakes very high quality research, such as at Bath. A close link between high quality research and clinical care improves both.”

Dr Amber Young, Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist, South West UK Children’s Burn Centre based at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol.


A major challenge for clinicians working with child patients is bacterial infection at the site of superficial to partial thickness burns (first and second degree burns).  Infection can lead to greater pain, increased scarring, longer hospital stays and even sudden death.  If infection beneath burn dressings is suspected, this usually prompts the treatment team to remove dressings. However, doing so increases the young patient’s pain and the probability of scarring, as well as increases financial costs, whether or not infection is found.


Toby Jenkins and his research team at the University of Bath have been developing the concept of incorporating capsules in biological dressings for treating children’s burns, which:

  • signal the presence of harmful bacteria by releasing fluorescent dyes, coupled with;
  • the automatic release of antimicrobial agents in the presence of harmful bacteria.

These two approaches were tested in the laboratory and on fresh porcine tissue, thus establishing the ‘proof of concept’ to develop the approaches further.

Benefits and outcomes

As a result of the project, a clinical research team is being assembled at Frenchay Hospital to collaborate with the University of Bath team to help produce dressing prototypes and, ultimately, conduct randomised, controlled clinical trials in hospitals.  Such developments involve close collaboration with industry partners, including Mölnlycke Healthcare who develop appropriate dressings.  Responsive, antimicrobial dressings could revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of scalds in thousands of children in the UK annually and, ultimately, millions worldwide.

Project team

Dr Toby Jenkins, Principal Investigator, Department of Chemistry
Dr June Mercer-Chalmers, KT Fellow, Department of Chemistry
Dr Amber Young, Consultant Paediatric Anaesthetist, South West UK Children’s Burn Centre

Funded by the University of Bath’s EPSRC Knowledge Transfer Account.