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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 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 95, ISSUE 45

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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Tien Nguyen (December 4, 2017 3:38 PM)
Many thanks to Andrew Roxburgh McGhie, a UPenn chemist, for a wonderful poem on this work:

An Electroceutical Dressing

‘Twas time to think outside the box
Thought Chandan Sen on reflection
As biofilms can antibiotics block
Stopping penetration to an infection
So his Ohio State group an answer sought
Using a textile-based electric bandage
For, not as foolish as might be thought
It has a distinct advantage
By depositing a silver and zinc dotted net
Which on contact with bodily fluid
Created a weak electric field effect
Preventing bacterial signaling through it
For this biofilm to form
Then bacteria must communicate
And this electrical disruption from the norm
Causes it to meet its fate
And, thus, it would now appear
An electric bandage will have our blessing
As faster wound healing may be near
Due to this electroceutical dressing

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