American and Chinese researchers have managed to develop electric bandages that can help wounds heal up to five times faster than a normal plaster. A first test phase carried out on mice brought the healing time down to three days instead of the fourteen days it took in certain cases. These promising results could lead to a number of therapeutic applications.
The therapeutic effect of electric stimulation on wounds, which speeds up healing, has already been scientifically observed over the last few years. A team of international researchers based at the University of Wisconsin Madison are now putting these findings into practice by designing bandages that are able to generate electricity. The first tests have shown that, when placed on a wound, the device causes the wounded tissue to heal faster, bringing the healing time down from fourteen days to three days in some cases, reports website Phonandroid.com.
Miniature electrodes to stimulate the skin’s cells
The bandage, developed by American and Chinese researchers, is equipped with small electrodes that transmit electricity when in contact with the skin. A nano-generator placed on the patient’s chest allows the movement of their breathing to be transformed into a low-intensity electric current that supplies the electrodes.
“The nature of these electric impulses is similar to how the body generates an internal electric field,” highlight the researchers, which explains why these weak electrical impulses pose no threat to the body’s tissues, unlike the stronger impulses used by traditional electrotherapy treatments. This electricity then activates the skin’s fibroblasts, the cells responsible for skin regeneration and elasticity, leading to better healing. Details of how the device works are given on the University of Wisconsin Madison website.
Soon to be available in pharmacies?
The team’s conclusive results – which feature in a study published by ACS Nano – have only been achieved on rats, for the time being. The next test phase will be carried out on pigs, before the electric bandages can be tested out on human test subjects.
If these various test phases prove successful, this futuristic bandage should be easy to mass-produce. It will be marketed at an affordable price, say its developers, as it is made from standard materials. It is therefore likely that these bandages will be on sale in pharmacies and hospitals in the near future.
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