DARPA’s BETR program leverages technology to dramatically improve tissue regeneration

darpa betr proposes smart bandages

DARPA plans to improve medical treatment on the battlefield using AI. The agency, through its four-year program called BETR, plans to use intelligent bandages and other systems that can predict and automatically react to the wounded soldiers’ needs.

Treatments and devices funded by the DARPA’s Bioelectronics for Tissue Regeneration program (BETR) aim to “closely track the progress of the wound and then stimulate healing processes in real time to optimize tissue repair and regeneration,” DARPA wrote in the news release.

“Wounds are living environments and the conditions change quickly as cells and tissues communicate and attempt to repair,” said Paul Sheehan, BETR Program Manager. “An ideal treatment would sense, process, and respond to these changes in the wound state and intervene to correct and speed recovery. For example, we anticipate interventions that modulate the immune response, recruit necessary cell types to the wound, or direct how stem cells differentiate to expedite healing.”

Of course, we know this isn’t impossible considering the fact that devices like smartwatches are already capable of monitoring several vital signals. A smart bandage on a wound, for instance, could collect any signal –“optical, biochemical, bioelectronic, or mechanical” – to say if the wound is becoming infected with a certain kind of bacteria. It can then prescribe the correct antibiotic in the correct dose and continue to monitor the patient’s progress.  It can even detect fluctuations in the heart rate to predict if the patient is suffering from pain. And certainly, all this information would be relayed to the caregiver.

DARPA is all set to host a Proposers Day on March 1 in Arlington, Virginia to provide more information to interested researchers in the healthcare industry.