It’s electrifying

Written by Jenny Straiton

Researchers have developed a dressing that self-generates electricity, allowing it to fight biofilm infection in wounds.

Researchers from Indiana University (IN, USA) have developed a wound dressing that can disrupt biofilm infection by using an electric field. Upon contact with body fluids such as wound fluid or blood, the dressing electrochemically self-generates one volt of electricity, enough to fight the infection without harming the patient.

Bacterial biofilms are thin films of bacteria that can be found on wounds, as well as where a medical device, such as a catheter, has been placed. By generating their own electricity, the bacteria are able to communicate and form a film, making them hostile and difficult to treat and remove. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (GA, USA) and the National Institutes of Health (MD, USA) have estimated that between 65 – 80% of all infections are due to bacteria presenting with this phenotype.

“This shows for the first time that bacterial biofilm can be disrupted by using an electroceutical dressing.”

The Indiana team are the first to investigate the use of electricity to treat biofilms instead of antibiotics, the current method of treatment. The results, recently published in Annals of Surgery, found that, as well as being effective when used alone, the dressing can enhance the actions of other medications, making them even more effective. It can also help to prevent new biofilm infections forming in the future.


“This shows for the first time that bacterial biofilm can be disrupted by using an electroceutical dressing,” explained lab head, Chandan Sen. “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”

The dressing was recently approved for burn care by the US FDA; the next step for the team is to investigate its effectiveness in promoting burn recovery.