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Electric Current Shown to Reduce Wound Bacteria

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria

Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIH)

18 April 2016. A bandage that sends a mild electric current through wounds was shown in tests with pigs to disrupt and reduce films of bacteria that form over wounds, to improve healing. Tests of the electric wound dressing, made by Vomaris Innovations in Tempe, Arizona, were reported at the Wound Healing Society conference that ended yesterday in Atlanta, Georgia.

Vomaris Innovations is a medical device company with a technology that sends a weak electric current from tiny batteries through dressings that the company says disrupts colonies of bacteria that can form in wounds. The batteries, made with silver and zinc, are arranged in a matrix in the wound dressing, between layers of adhesive and foam. The electric current is carried through hydrogel or saline solutions applied with the dressing, or the moisture from the wound itself.

The company’s technology is designed to prevent the build-up of bacterial biofilms in the wounds. Biofilms are communities of microbes that connect and expand through a matrix of organic matter. These microbe colonies also stick tightly to surfaces, including the skin, making them difficult to treat, because of their persistence and ability to resist conventional antibiotics. When biofilms cause skin infections, the bacteria are further protected by the outermost layer of the skin.

In their conference paper, a research team led by Ohio State University surgery professor Chandra Sen reported on tests of the Vomaris device with full thickness burns on pigs that destroy both the dermis and epidermis layers of skin. The burns were also infected with biofilms of Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Acinetobacter bacteria, which present serious problems for patients in hospitals, especially in intensive care units or with weak immune systems. The animals were randomly assigned to receive treatments twice a week for 56 days with either Vomaris or placebo dressings.

The results show wounds treated with Vomaris dressings had less bacterial biofilm colonization on the wound surface, compared to the placebo dressings. In addition, wounds treated with the Vomaris dressings showed more new tissue regrow and stronger skin barrier over the wound than those treated with placebos.

Sen notes in a Vomaris statement that the electric current in the dressings could help prevent development of resistance to treatments, a growing problem with traditional antibiotics. “Electrical forces and activity are central to the assembly and integrity of bacterial biofilm,” says Sen. “These microbes cannot evade electrodynamic forces as they do pharmacological drugs, making electroceutical intervention a smart choice.”

FDA cleared the Vomaris device, with the brand-name Procellera, for use with humans in June 2013.

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