Dasia Taylor is only 17, but she is not only a finalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search, she may soon own a patent for color-changing sutures she has developed over the past year and a half.
As any science fair veteran knows, at the core of a successful project is a problem in need of solving. Taylor had read about sutures coated with a conductive material that can sense the status of a wound by changes in electrical resistance, and relay that information to the smartphones or computers of patients and doctors. While these “smart” sutures could help in the United States, the expensive tool might be less applicable to people in developing countries, where internet access and mobile technology is sometimes lacking. And yet the need is there; on average, 11 percent of surgical wounds develop an infection in low- and middle-incoming countries, according to the World Health Organization, compared to between 2 and 4 percent of surgeries in the U.S.
Sutures that detect infection would need to be low-tech to be useful in developing countries, so Taylor went to work looking for an infection indicator anyone could read. Read how she developed surgical stitches that turn purple when an incision is infected at Smithsonian.
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