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Plasma at low temperatures is capable of killing bacterial species in chronic wound infections and protective biofilms

A team of researchers from the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow may have found an alternative to antibiotics that is both effective and safe. 

Dr. Svetlana Ermolaeva, leader of the study, along with a team of researchers from the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, may have found a substitute for antibiotics that is capable of treating multi-drug resistant infections. 

The alternative is cold plasma jets. According to the researchers, cold plasma has the ability to fight several bacterial species like Staphylococcus aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Antibiotics used today have a difficult time fighting these bacterial species because the bacteria can form biofilms, which are protective layers made by the bacterial species growing together, which makes them resistant to the antibiotics. 

But now, the researchers have found that plasma (at a low temperature of 35-40 degrees Celsius) could be a promising combatant against chronic wound infections. Plasmas are created when high-energy processes "strip atoms of their electrons" to make ionized gas flows at increased temperatures. Hot plasmas are already in use for medical and technical purposes such as disinfecting surgical utensils. 

Ermolaeva and the team of researchers have begun testing cold plasma's ability to fight drug-resistant bacterial species in rats, and found that a 10-minute treatment was effective in not only killing the bacteria, but also caused the wound to heal faster. The low-temperature plasma killed up to 99 percent of bacteria found within lab-grown biofilms after a five minute time period, while this same plasma killed 90 percent of bacteria infecting skin wounds in rats after a 10 minute time period. 

"Cold plasmas are able to kill bacteria by damaging microbial DNA and surface structures without being harmful to human tissues," said Ermolaeva. "Importantly we have shown that plasma is able to kill bacteria growing in biofilms in wounds, although thicker biofilms show some resistance to treatment."

The research team plans to continue their research to better the technique and find useful medical applications for cold plasma. 

"Our work demonstrates that plasma is effective against pathogenic bacteria with multiple-antibiotic resistance - not just in Petri dishes but in actual infected wounds," said Ermolaeva. "Another huge advantage to plasma therapy is that it is non-specific, meaning it is much harder for bacteria to develop resistance. It's a method that is contact-free, painless, and does not contribute to chemical contamination of the environment."

This study was published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

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RE: I don't see how that helps...
By guffwd13 on 12/15/2010 5:19:22 PM , Rating: 0
antibacterial treatments never needed to kill 100% of the bacteri

No, actually that's exactly the problem. There was an article on DT a few months ago that addressed this... but I don't have time to dig that up now.

Basically, yes you keep the person from dying from infection. BUT the 1% of bacteria that survived had already randomly mutated to be resistant (this isn't a conscious mutation - but a random one that occurs every time the cell divides, which with bacteria can be several times a minute - think back to high school biology and watching cells divide under the microscope). This is why bacteria out evolve us... a few minutes to mutate vs 25 years.

The issue is, the bacteria that survive are the only ones left to reproduce. By using antiobiotics we are actively weeding out the week and leaving the strong to survive. The more strong bacteria there are, the less we can control them, the more prevalent they get, the more people they kill. This is a textbook example natural selection - well a human-induced one anyway.

nafhen is right, plasma therapy just another method of antibiotics really. its good we have one in addition to drug antibiotics, cause now they need to resist two forms of annihilation, but in the end the ones left standing may even be strong than those we have now. Think MRSA and you have one scary bug.

Sure, what's the difference between bacteria in the past and now? Nothing. Black plague is the worst we have to fear... oh wait....

And evolution is not in any way correlated to efficiency. Else you wouldn't be staring at your screen today. We are pretty efficient, but we were once bacteria that got stronger by accident.

Or maybe it was aliens....

RE: I don't see how that helps...
By Etsp on 12/15/2010 5:42:07 PM , Rating: 5
No, they aren't the ones left to reproduce. They are the ones left to be decimated by an overwhelming force of T-Cells.

The real issue of bacteria forming resistance to treatments is when people stop treatment too early and the infection comes back and becomes contagious again. A sustained treatment that kills 90% of the bacteria is more than enough as long as it's utilized long enough for the white blood cells to finish the job.

I think the article you are referring to was here:

From that article:
Interestingly the study also confirmed the idea that natural selection is a game of tradeoffs -- by increasing the level of heat shock proteins, the cell consumed valuable resources. While this allowed it to survive, it came at the cost of reduced growth.
Basically, the larger variety of methods we have to combat bacteria, the better. If a strain becomes immune to all drugs and plasma treatments, it will not spread nearly as fast, and it will not be able to overcome the immune system nearly as easily as a non-immune strain.

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