Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have found a way to use electricity to fight against bacterial infections. The novel work has seen positive results in the treatment of bacterial biofilm infections.
Bacterial biofilms are a type of bacteria that develop on wounds after burns or post-surgical infections that generate their own electricity. They use it communicate making them notoriously tough to treat.
Worst of all, they are not uncommon. The National Institutes of Health estimates that 80 percent of all infections are caused by bacteria with this phenotype.
The newly-engineered treatment would see electric field-based dressings treat biofilms rather than antibiotics. The novel dressing electrochemically self-generates 1 volt of electricity when put into contact with body fluids.
This amount is not enough to electrocute the patient but it is enough to fight off the biofilm. When combined with medications the dressing has an even more potent effect.
It can also be used as a preventative measure to stop biofilm infections from forming in the first place.
"This shows for the first time that bacterial biofilm can be disrupted by using an electroceutical dressing," said Chandan Sen, PhD, director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering and associate vice president of research for the IU School of Medicine Department of Surgery.
"This has implications across surgery as biofilm presence can lead to many complications in successful surgical outcomes. Such textile may be considered for serving as hospital fabric -- a major source of hospital acquired infections"
The Food and Drug Administration recently approved marketing of the dressing for burn care while the team is now looking into its potential for treating patients recovering from burns.
Their findings were published in the journal Annals of Surgery.