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article imageOp-Ed: Electrically charged dressings beat bacteria

By Paul Wallis     May 19, 2019 in Health
Indianapolis - A new type of dressing has proven effective at combating bacterial infections in wounds. The dressings are made of “electroceuticals”, materials which can generate 1 volt of electricity, and there are other possible for sterile areas, food, and more.
University of Indiana School of Medicine researchers created the electroceutical dressing on the known principle that bacteria generate their own bio-electricity. As “biofilms”, interactive groups of bacteria, the bio-electricity is used by infections to communicate and interact. Application of electrically charged dressing interferes with the bacterial electrical fields, therefore interfering with bacterial interactions.
These electrical interactions are also the drivers for bacterial responses to treatments. The theory is that bacteria send a chemically generated electrical signal like a reflex action in response to certain stimuli, like antibiotics, and the biofilm responds according to the electrical signal.
The electroceutical dressings appear to quite literally jam these electrical signals, fragmenting or nullifying the biofilms’ ability to connect to form films and communicate. So other bacteria don’t get the electrochemical messages, and the biofilm as a whole can’t respond normally to new threats.
Researchers are understandably very happy about strongly positive results from their now-proven core principle. The electroceutical dressings apparently also enhance the effects of medication. That’s very good news for a lot of patients. Post-surgical antibiotic infections, in particular, have become far too common, and are now considered a routine risk. Electroceutical could be the breaking point for this problem.
Electroceutical sterile environments, foods, and more?
Another issue for hospitals and the health sector in general is the simple fact that bacteria are everywhere. Rising populations of antibiotic resistant bacteria have made even the idea of sterility a very high priority for healthcare around the world.
Electroceutical materials generate low voltage, quite harmless to humans, but they could also be used as surfaces for just about anything to sterilize environments. They could be used as passive sterilizers, creating “safe zones” where anything put in them is sterilized. That could take a lot of strain off the overloaded health systems in terms of basic hygiene.
Electroceuticals could also in theory be used as onsite sterilizers for actual surgical work. Surgery is one of the most likely sites of infection introduction, while the wound is open and vulnerable. Electrical fields at 1 volt won’t disrupt any surgical procedure, but could be like a nuclear strike against bacteria in the vicinity of the wound.
There are many other ramifications and evolutions for this technology. The food industry, too, could use electroceuticals for food hygiene. A simple electroceutical membrane on packaged food could work as a good all-round protection against contaminants, for example.
Obviously, there’s a long way to go with this research, but the University of Indiana has opened the door to a much more positive view of infection management and control. This is great work, and couldn’t possibly be more timely in terms of real medical need.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about ellectroceutical surgical dressings, University of Indiana School of Medicine, elecrtroceuticals vs biofilms, electroceutical sterilization
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