Electricity may be antibiotic alternative

A new treatment option for bacterial wound infections that uses electrical stimulation may offer an alternative to antibiotics.

Researchers treated a bacterial film with an electric current, and found almost all of the antibiotic-resistant bacteria A. baumannii was killed within 24 hours. The treatment was also tested on pig tissue, where it killed most of the bacteria without damaging the surrounding tissue. 

While previous studies have been conducted on treating infected wounds with electrical stimulation, results have been mixed due to a lack of understanding of how electricity affects biological systems, said lead researcher Haluk Beyenal, Ph.D., of Washington State University.

“We have been doing fundamental research on this for many years, and finally, we are able to transfer it to technology,'' said Beyenal.

The electric current is passed over the wound surface using what researchers called an “e-scaffold,” a type of electronic dressing made from conductive carbon fabric. By sending a continuous current through the dressing, a concentration of hydrogen peroxide is produced that kills bacteria.