A new type of surgical dressing might provide a better resistant to bacterial infection and combat antibiotic resistance by using weak electric fields.

“Drug resistance in bacteria is a major threat and antibiotic-resistant biofilm infections are estimated to account for at least 75 percent of bacterial infections in the United States,” said Dr Chandan Sen, Director of Ohio States Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell-Based Therapies.

Sen experimented 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 as a disposable dressing.

During the study, the WED dressing was applied within the 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” (Wexnermedical,2017). Both proved successful, Sen said.

Dr Chandan Sen holding the WED. Credit: Wexner Medical Center – The Ohio State University

“Our study shows that WED may be viewed as a first generation electroceutical wound care dressing, and it also accelerated functional wound closure by restoring skin barrier function,” Sen said. “Both from bacterial biofilm structure as well as host response perspectives, WED was consistently effective. No batteries or wires are needed because we harness the power of electrochemistry.”

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