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Biological Chemistry

Electric bandage zaps biofilm infections

Dressing treats wounds without antibiotics by disrupting bacterial communication

by Tien Nguyen
November 13, 2017 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 95, Issue 45

Image of gloved hand holding an electric dressing about the size of a napkin with silver and zinc polka dots.
Credit: Ohio State University
This electric bandage disrupts biofilm formation in wounds to help defeat infections.

More than half of human infections are caused by bacteria that glom on to one another or to a surface to form a protective biofilm that can be difficult to treat with antibiotics. Researchers led by Chandan K. Sen at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have developed a textile-based electric bandage that fights infections physically instead of chemically, thwarting the bacteria’s ability to develop resistance. They now report the first test of the bandage’s effectiveness for treating biofilm infections in pigs (Ann. Surg. 2017, DOI: 10.1097/sla.0000000000002504). The dressing is patterned with silver and zinc polka dots that create a weak electric field when they come into contact with body fluids at the wound site, which disrupts the electrical signals that bacteria send to one another to form biofilms. In the test, the researchers studied pigs with burn wounds infected with human bacterial strains. They bandaged the wounds either within two hours of the injury or a week after the injury. Using scanning electron microscopy, the team found that the “electroceutical” dressing was able to prevent or disrupt biofilm formation and speed up wound healing compared with a placebo bandage.


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