A bandage that gradually releases infection-fighting drugs and then dissolves once the wound has healed could help thousands of burns victims.
The high-tech dressing, pioneered at Tel Aviv University in Israel, is designed to combat the high rate of infections among burns patients.
It's estimated that as many as 70 per cent of patients with very severe burns die from infections that penetrate the body through damaged skin and wounds.
Standard care involves regular cleaning and changing of bandages, which can disrupt the healing process.
One of the major problems doctors face is that if these kinds of wounds are too dry, they won't heal fully; if they are too moist, there is a high risk of contamination by bacteria.
To get round this, Israeli scientists have developed special fibres that are woven in such a way that they can 'store' significant quantities of antibiotic drugs.
These fibres are used to make a dressing that sits on top of a burn and allows the medicine to seep slowly into the wound.
The fibres are also biodegradable, which means that after a few days they dissolve harmlessly, removing the need to change the bandage constantly and expose the wound.
Tests show the experimental dressing can wipe out dangerous bacteria within days.
'We've developed the first wound dressing that releases antibiotics and biodegrades in a controlled manner,' says Professor Meital Zilberman, who is a member of the research team.