An incredible new study has demonstrated the potential of a wound dressing that can fight bacterial infections using a weak electrical field. Offering a novel way to battle antibiotic resistant infections, the dressing has been approved by the FDA and is currently being tested in human burn patients.
The National Institutes of Health estimates up to 80 percent of all bacterial infections are caused by a phenotype known as a bacterial biofilm. These biofilms occur when bacterial cells adhere together to form a slimy substance, often around wounds or implanted medical devices. Bacterial biofilms can be difficult to eradicate at the best of times, a task made even more challenging with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
A variety of new techniques to battle bacterial biofilms are in development. One team from the University of Southern Florida is exploring the biofilm-busting potential of a newly discovered compound from an Antarctic sea sponge, while another team from the University of Pennsylvania is investigating micro-robots as a way of breaking down these biofilms.
The new research proposes yet another novel biofilm-busting method: electricity. The study suggests a weak electric field can prevent bacteria from aggregating into biofilms, and break down a bacterial biofilm if it is already present on a wound. To do this, the researchers developed what they call a wireless electroceutical dressing (WED).