Good news for the millions of people who suffer from skin wounds that won't heal. A team of researchers at The Ohio State University has brought a potentially transformative solution to the problem by creating a portable adhesive patch that drives a continuous, small electrical current to stimulate healing and reduce the risk of infection.
Nearly 7 million Americans have chronic wounds - typically a result of diabetes, obesity or other conditions that impact circulation - costing the healthcare system nearly $25 billion each year. The non-healing wounds are painful, can permanently damage nerves, prevent mobility and in extreme cases, cause infection that can lead to death.
The patch's design significantly advances existing FDA-approved wireless electroceutical dressing (WED) that harnesses the body's innate response to injury to help wounds heal.
"A wound naturally produces its own electrical fields that help reduce bacteria and promote cell regeneration; however, this function is likely impaired in chronic wounds," said Sashwati Roy, PhD, an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at Ohio State's College of Medicine. "The prototype dressing mimics this physiological process, and while it has proven to create an optimal environment where chronic wounds can heal, we are always looking for new ways to keep pathogens under better control."
Roy notes that chronic wounds are particularly susceptible to infection because bacteria, which at times are free floating within a wound - can sometimes mobilize, creating colonies covered by a thick sticky coating called a biofilm. The immune system cannot penetrate the biofilm, and antibiotics can't get in either - causing constant inflammation and low-level infection that can further dampen the healing process.