Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Pulsed electrical fields destroy antibiotic resistant bacteria

Scientists have successfully used technology that is used to disinfect food products to destroy antibiotic resistant bacteria.

When someone becomes badly burnt, standard burn treatment involves removal of burned tissue, skin grafts, and the application of antiseptic and antimicrobial dressings to prevent and treat infection.

Here antibiotic-resistant bacteria present a major risk to the patient, partly due to the increasing failure of many types of antibiotics.

For this reason, researchers have been looking at new ways to destroy antibiotic resistant microorganisms. The latest method to be examined is pulsed electrical field technology, and the results look promising.

Pulsed electrical fields (PEFs) have been used for decades to preserve food by destroying bacteria. It works by destroying the bacterial membrane. To explore the technology’s application of burns, scientists applied a multidrug resistant strain of a bacterium to small third-degree burns that had been made on the backs of anesthetized mice. After 40 minutes, during which imaging of the fluorescent bacteria confirmed the established infection, the burned area was treated with an electrical field generated by placing the damaged skin between two electrodes. Each animal received two 40-pulse treatments five minutes apart, one group receiving 250 V/mm pulses and another receiving 500 V/mm pulses.

Images taken right after each treatment showed pronounced drops in bacterial levels
It seems that pulsed electrical field technology has the advantages of targeting numerous bacterial species and penetrating the full thickness of a wound. However, additional investigations are needed to confirm the safety of the tested voltage levels and the treatment's effectiveness against deep infections and other species of resistant bacteria before the technology can be applied to people.

The study was conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Center for Engineering in Medicine and it has been published in the journal Technology, in a paper titled “Eradication of multidrug-resistant A. baumannii in burn wounds by antiseptic pulsed electric field.

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