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How a new chronic wound treatment could help millions

A new treatment uses ionised gas to activate a wound dressing instead of antibiotics to treat chronic wounds

According to the researchers, the new method is an important leap in addressing antibiotic-resistant pathogens and could change the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers.
According to the researchers, the new method is an important leap in addressing antibiotic-resistant pathogens and could change the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers. (Pexels)

Often treatment of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot ulcers and internal wounds involves antibiotics. However, increasing resistance to antibiotics has been a global challenge. Now, in a new study, researchers used an ionised gas to activate a wound dressing.

Researchers from the University of Sheffield and the University of South Australia, have developed a treatment wherein the plasma activation of hydrogel dressings, often used in wound dressings, is done using a unique mix of different chemical oxidants that are effective in decontaminating and aid healing in chronic wounds.

Also read: ‘Smart’ bandages will use 5G data to monitors wounds

“More than 540 million people are living with diabetes worldwide, of which 30 per cent will develop a foot ulcer during their lifetime. This is a neglected global pandemic which is set to increase further in the coming years due to a rise in obesity and lack of exercise,” study author Rob Short said in the University of Sheffield’s press statement. Moreover, the high cost of managing chronic wounds can make it unaffordable for many patients.

According to the researchers, the new method is an important leap in addressing antibiotic-resistant pathogens and could change the treatment of diabetic foot ulcers and internal wounds.

Clinical trials have shown that cold plasma ionised gas not only controls the infection but also stimulates healing. This is because of the potent chemical cocktail of oxidants, namely reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS) it produces when it mixes and activates the oxygen and nitrogen molecules in the ambient air, the statement explained.

The researchers further added that along with eliminating common bacteria such as E. coli and P. aeruginosa that cause wounds to become infected, the plasma-activated hydrogels could trigger the body’s immune system to help fight infections.

“It is imperative that we find alternative treatments to antibiotics and silver dressings because when these treatments don’t work, amputations often occur,” author Endre Szili said in the statement.

In recent times, more studies have looked into improving treatment options using technology. For instance, a common challenge in treating burn victims is the frequency of dressing changes which can be significantly painful. To address this, a June 2023 study, published in the Journal of Colloids and Interfacial Science, talked about a new type of wound dressing made of advanced polymers with fine-tuned surface adhesion to improve the healing process.

Also read: 3D printed dressing could improve burn and cancer treatments

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