Bacterial biofilms

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine have found a way to charge up the fight; but against bacterial infections using electricity. Work conducted in the laboratories of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering; Chandan Sen, PhD and Sashwati Roy, PhD has led to the development of a dressing; that uses an electric field to disrupt biofilm infection. Their findings were recently published in the high-impact journal “Annals of Surgery.”

Bacterial bio-films are thin, slimy films of bacteria that form on some wounds; including burns or post-surgical infections, as well as after a medical device, such as a catheter, is place in the body. These bacteria generate their own electricity, using their own electric fields; to communicate and form the biofilm, which makes them more hostile and difficult to treat.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 65% of all infections cause bacteria; but with this bio-film phenotype, while the National Institutes of Health estimates that number is closer to 80%. Researchers at IU School of Medicine; but are the first to study the practice of using an electric field-based dressing to treat bio-films rather than antibiotics.

Biofilm phenotype

They discovered the dressing is not only successful in fighting the bacteria on its own; but when combined with other medications can make them even more effective. This discovery has the potential to create significant changes in the way physicians; but treat patients with bacterial infections which are resistant to antibiotics.

The dressing can also help prevent new bio-film infections from forming in the future. The dressing electrochemically self-generates 1 volt of electricity; but upon contact with body fluids such as wound fluid or blood, which is not enough to hurt or electrocute the patient.

“This shows for the first time that bacterial bio-film can be disrupting using an electroceutical dressing. This has implications across surgery as bio-film presence can lead to many complications in successful surgical outcomes. But such textile may be consider for serving as hospital fabric; a major source of hospital acquired infections,” said Chandan Sen, PhD, Director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering and Associate Vice President of Research for the IU School of Medicine Department of Surgery.

Wound bio-film aggregates

Marketing of the dressing for burn care was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The team is now studying the device’s effectiveness in patients recovering from burns. But scanning electron microscopy demonstrated that WED prevented and disrupted wound bio-film aggregates.

The WED accelerated functional wound closure by restoring skin barrier function. WED blunted bio-film-induced expression of (1) P. aeruginosa quorum sensing mvfR (pqsR), rhlR and lasR genes, and (2) miR-9 and silencing of E-cadherin. E-cadherin is critically required for skin barrier function. Furthermore, WED rescued against bio-film-induced persistent inflammation by circumventing nuclear factor kappa B activation and its downstream cytokine responses.