Biofilms are the tough gangs of the bacterial world. A slimy substance that forms when bacteria group together in a kind of gooey overlay, biofilm causes up to 80 percent of all bacterial infections. These formations usually adhere to surfaces around wounds or implanted medical devices and can be difficult to eradicate at the best of times, a task made even more challenging with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Scientists are currently developing a variety of techniques to battle such biofilms, from micro-robots to natural bacteria-killing sponges found at the bottom of the Antarctic sea. A more recent development proposes yet another novel biofilm-busting method: electricity. It involves using a weak electric field that can prevent bacteria from aggregating into biofilms, and that can break down a bacterial biofilm if it is already present on a wound.
To do this, the researchers developed a wireless dressing that self-generates a weak electrical stimulation when it comes in contact with body fluids in a wound. The electrical field is reportedly harmless to a patient but strong enough to break down a bacterial biofilm. And what makes this technique even greater is the fact that it is highly unlikely for bacteria to become resistant to it. The dressing, which has been approved by the FDA, is currently being tested in human burn patients and could offer a novel way to battle antibiotic-resistant infections.