The pigment that gives plums, grapes and berries their deep purple hue could be a key to better health care for people living in remote Australia.
That's the focus of University of Southern Queensland student Dinuki Seneviratne's PhD project, which involves developing gel wound dressings using the anthocyanin pigment.
Ms Seneviratne is investigating using anthocyanins as pH indicators, meaning the dressings would change colour to show whether a wound is healing or deteriorating.
She said the project aims to create better chronic wound care for people in remote areas, particularly Indigenous Australians, who may live far from health services.
Several Australian studies have shown First Nations people are more likely to have amputations after suffering diabetes-related chronic wounds than those who are non-Indigenous.
"Chronic wound care is an area of great concern when it comes to First Nations' health," Ms Seneviratne told AAP.
"People often can't achieve the same type of care they would get in a metropolitan area.
"I want to make a hydrogel dressing that is effective in healing and preventing chronic wounds and is self-applicable, so there's no worry about coming into a clinic."
Ms Seneviratne was initially interested in biomedical engineering in medicine, including the use of sensors, mobile apps and micro-needles, until she realised it was too complex to make a real difference in rural health care.
"I made it much simpler. I imagine people will be able to take the dressings home and apply it without anybody's help," she said.
The dressings, which will also use aloe vera and the sticky gum alginate, will be affordable, accessible and hopefully biodegradable, she said.
The work is being supervised by senior nursing lecturer Dr Raelene Ward, a Kunja woman, in collaboration with allied Indigenous health care services.
Ms Seneviratne's project presentation won the university's three-minute thesis research competition.
She will compete in an Asia-Pacific round in October.
Australian Associated Press
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