Researchers at Purdue University have developed a wearable device that can administer antibacterial ozone gas to chronic wounds to help disinfect them. The technology could allow people to disinfect chronic wounds at home, and would be helpful in cases where wounds have been colonized by drug-resistant bacteria and aren’t responding to antibiotic therapy. Approximately 6 million patients in the US have a chronic wound. This includes many patients with diabetes who develop foot ulcers. These wounds can have a significant impact on quality of life, mobility, and the ability to work. In many cases, chronic wounds can’t heal because they are infested with drug-resistant bacteria that can’t be eradicated using antibiotics.
To make matters worse, these bacteria can form a biofilm, which is a slimy collection of millions of individual bacteria and a secreted matrix, on the surface of such wounds. The biofilms protect the bacteria, making them even more difficult to eradicate.
One option is to use ozone gas to disinfect the surface of such wounds, giving them a better chance of healing. However, at present such treatment must be performed using specialized equipment, meaning that patients have to travel to a hospital or clinic every time they want to avail of it. To address this, the Purdue team developed a wearable ozone generating device that patients can apply to their wound for disinfection at home. “We created a revolutionary type of treatment to kill the bacteria on the surface of the wound or diabetic ulcer and accelerate the healing process,” said Rahim Rahimi, a researcher involved in the study. “We created a low-cost wearable patch and accompanying components to deliver ozone therapy.”
The system includes a flexible patch which allows ozone gas to diffuse onto the wound bed. The patch is connected to a tube that links to an ozone generator, which is powered by a battery. Once turned on, the device provides a steady stream of ozone, which kills bacteria present on the wound by oxidizing the bacterial cells and rupturing them. The entire system is small and affordable.