Cold Plasma Claimed to Spur Wound Healing

Researchers here claim that the use of cold plasma, ionized gas, can improve wound healing. Other research in past years has suggested that tinkering with the electromagnetic environment of tissues can produce changes in cellular behavior, so this isn't completely out of left field. The effects seem fairly marginal at this point, however, and note that this particular study is in cell cultures, not living tissues, though past efforts have looked at effects on animals and people. The outcome of this study suggests that what they are looking at is perhaps some form of hormesis, whereby a little damage triggers greater repair efforts in cells for a net gain, but bear in mind that cell cultures are very different in many ways when compared with actual tissues.

Researchers have found that treating cells with cold plasma leads to their regeneration and rejuvenation. This result can be used to develop a plasma therapy program for patients with non-healing wounds. Non-healing wounds make it more difficult to provide effective treatment to patients and are therefore a serious problem faced by doctors. These wounds can be caused by damage to blood vessels in the case of diabetes, failure of the immune system resulting from an HIV infection or cancers, or slow cell division in elderly people. Treatment of non-healing wounds by conventional methods is very difficult and in some cases impossible. Cold atmospheric-pressure plasma refers to a partially ionized gas (the proportion of charged particles in the gas being close to 1%) with a temperature below 100,000K. Its application in biology and medicine has been made possible by the advent of plasma sources generating jets at 30-40°C.

An earlier study established the bactericidal properties of low-temperature plasma, as well as the relatively high resistance of cells and tissues to its influence. The results of plasma treatment of patients with non-healing wounds varied from positive to neutral. The authors' previous work prompted them to investigate the possibility that the effect of plasma treatment on wound healing could depend on application pattern (the interval between applications and the total number of applications). Two types of cells were used in this study, viz. fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) and keratinocytes (epithelial cells). Both play a central role in wound healing. The first set of samples (cells) was treated by plasma once (A), while the second and the third sets were treated two (B) and three (C) times with 48 and 24 hour intervals respectively. The effect of plasma treatment on cells was measured. In fibroblast samples, the number of cells increased by 42.6% after one application (A) and by 32.0% after two applications (B), as compared to the untreated controls. While no signs of DNA breaks were detected following plasma application, an accumulation of cells in the active phases of the cell cycle was observed, alongside a prolonged growth phase. "The positive response to plasma treatment that we observed could be linked to the activation of a natural destructive mechanism called autophagy, which removes damaged organelles from the cell and reactivates cellular metabolic processes."


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