High Schooler Invents Color-Changing, Infection-Detecting Sutures

The sutures use dye derived from beets that darkens when a surgical wound becomes infected.

A recent Smithsonian Magazine article discussed an innovative new suture developed by a high school student. Seventeen-year-old Dasia Taylor developed color-changing sutures while a student at Iowa City West High School. The concept landed her awards from a variety of regional science fairs before sending her to the national stage for the Regeneron Science Talent Search, the most prestigious high school science and math competition.

Taylor set out to solve the problem of Cesarean section infections, an issue that plagues up to 20% of women in some African nations. Thus, she invented sutures that change color to indicate the wound has become infected. Natural skin is slightly acidic with a pH of five, but when an infection occurs, the pH can go up to about nine. This change doesn’t need electronics to be detected; in fact, fruits and vegetables are great natural indicators of pH changes. Taylor found that beets changed color at the perfect pH point to detect an infection. You can see Dasia discuss her invention here.

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