Indiana University School of Medicine researchers have developed a method of using electricty to fight against bacterial infections.

Lead authors Chandan Sen and Sashwati Roy designed a method of creating a dressing that utilizes an electric field to disrupt biofilm infection. They conducted their research at the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering laboratories. Their findings were published in the Annals of Surgery.

Bacterial biofilms develop on some wounds such as post-surgical infections or burns. These thin, slimy films of bacteria communicate and form the biofilm by generating their own electricity that makes them more difficult to treat. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 65 percent of all infections are caused by bacteria with this biofilm phenotype, while the National Institutes of Health estimates that number is closer to 80 percent,"

These IU School of Medicine scientists were original in studying how an electric field-based dressing could be used to treat biofilms instead of antibiotics. The dressing is effective on its own already in fighting the bacteria. The dressing becomes more successful when it is combined with other medications. This will have an effect on how doctors treat patients with bacteria that are already resistant to medication. New biofilm infections can also be prevented from forming through the dressing. One volt of electricity is self-generated by the dressing when it comes in contact with body fluids such as blood or wound fluid, which is safe for patients.

"This shows for the first time that bacterial biofilm can be disrupted by using an electroceutical dressing," said Chandan Sen, Ph.D., 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. "This has implications across surgery as biofilm presence can lead to many complications in successful surgical outcomes. Such textile may be considered for serving as hospital fabric - a major source of hospital-acquired infections"