Electric fields have previously been shown to speed up wound healing, so researchers have created a dressing powered by static electricity
An electric wound dressing can help heal injuries faster than existing methods, according to tests in rats.
Previous research has found that applying electric fields across a cut can speed up wound healing, but this usually requires large and specialised equipment.
Because of this, Guang Yao at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu and his colleagues wanted to develop an alternative that could be applied in a similar way to traditional wound dressings. “Non-invasive, efficient, cost-effective and convenient approaches are always desired for treating skin wounds,” he says.
The dressing is made up of four layers. The bottom layer is made from an electrically charged plastic that produces an electric field through static contact with the skin. Next is a layer of flexible silicone rubber gel that moulds to the skin’s curvature, and then a layer of shape memory alloy that pushes the two sides of the wound together. A second layer of flexible gel completes the dressing, which is just 0.2 millimetres thick in total.
The team tested the wound-healing properties of the dressing on around 50 rats. They anaesthetised the rats before giving each either a 1-centimetre-long linear wound or a 0.8-centimetre-diameter circular wound and then either applying the new dressing, applying a standard dressing or leaving them to heal by themselves.
The circular wounds that received the electric dressing were 96.8 per cent closed after eight days, compared with between 76.4 and 79.9 per cent closed with other dressings, and 45.9 per cent closed for wounds that weren’t dressed. The straight wounds healed faster than round ones because they have less “defect tissue”, says Yao, but the relative performance was similar. “We are optimising the design of devices for more shaped wounds, including irregular shapes,” says Yao. The team is also doing preclinical preparations to prepare for human trials.
“The study has a really interesting design idea to use electrostatic thin film to enhance the wound closure and stop bacterial infections,” says Vi Khanh Truong at Flinders University, Australia. “However, the cost may be a biggest hindrance for this design.” Yao declined to say how much the dressing costs to manufacture, but says “it is not expensive”.
Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl8379
More on these topics: