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Special bandages using weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection can prevent infections, combat antibiotic resistance, and enable healing in infected burn wound. (Credit: The Ohio State University)

Researchers have shown — for the first time — that special bandages using weak electric fields to disrupt bacterial biofilm infection can prevent infections, combat antibiotic resistance, and enable healing in infected burn wounds. The dressing becomes electrically active upon contact with bodily fluids.

Bacterial biofilms represent a major wound complication. Resistance of biofilm towards drug interventions calls for alternative strategies. Bacteria rely on electrostatic interactions to adhere to surfaces, an important aspect of biofilm formation. The concept that weak electric fields may have anti-biofilm property was first reported in 1992.

This study builds on earlier research with a wireless electroceutical dressing (WED) using silver and zinc printed on fabric. When moistened, WED generates a weak electric field without any external power supply and can be used like any other disposable dressing.

During the study, WED dressing was applied within two hours of wound infection in pigs to test its ability to prevent biofilm formation. In addition, WED was applied after seven days of infection to study disruption of established biofilm. Wounds were treated with placebo dressing or WED twice a week for 56 days. Both proved successful. During burn injury, barrier function of the skin is breached, leaving the body vulnerable. Patients with burn injuries risk dehydration, along with the potential of foreign agents such as bacteria and allergen entering into the body and causing potential health complications.

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