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Novel electroceutical gives furry friend a leg up in healing

Two researchers with a dog and an electronic bandageProfessors Shaurya Prakash (left) and Vish Subramaniam with a prototype of the electronic bandage that is healing wounds in people and pets.It’s not science fiction: bandages that direct electric stimulation to tissue are being used to speed wound healing in pets and people.

A new, patented bandage technology developed by researchers in The Ohio State University Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering has already proved beneficial for Daisy*, a four-year-old canine companion that suffered from a chronic wound. Today, Daisy has a new lease on life thanks to a collaboration between Ohio State’s College of Engineering and College of Veterinary Medicine.

Meet Daisy

Late in 2017, after having had a number of treatments on her right front leg, Daisy suffered from a large, infected non-healing wound. Existing treatment methods and antibiotics used to eliminate infection and promote wound healing weren’t helping. Then, her veterinarian, Kathleen Ham, DVM, formerly at the College of Veterinary Medicine, had an idea.

“I had heard about printed electroceutical dressing being developed in the College of Engineering to help non-healing wounds,” said Ham. “Daisy seemed like the perfect candidate to benefit from its use.”

Ham reached out to the team of mechanical engineers behind the device, who, along with Daisy’s owners, agreed to trial the novel device.

Within one week of using the bandage, two centimeters of Daisy’s four-centimeter-long wound had healed. After 11 days of continued use, infection from the wound resolved. The bandage was removed and the wound was treated with standard wound care. A check-in at 67 days post-treatment revealed the wound had healed completely.

Printed electroceutical dressing

Composed of a silver-based ink printed on silk fabric and connected to a battery, printed electroceutical dressing works by generating electric stimulations across the wound-dressing interface in order to aid healing. The electrochemical stimulation has shown nearly no adverse impact on underlying tissue.

Components of the electronic bandageComponents of the electronic bandage“The antimicrobial bandage is designed to enhance the healing of chronic and non-healing wounds that are resistant to antibiotic treatment,” said device co-inventor Associate Professor Shaurya Prakash. Along with Vish Subramaniam, chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and an interdisciplinary team of Ohio State investigators, he recently co-authored an article published in Scientific Reports that details the device’s capabilities.

The dressing disrupts biofilm, a distinct antibiotic-resistant and bacteria-containing layer that can form over wounds, often rending them chronic or non-healing.

“As in the case of Daisy, bacterial infections contribute to chronic and non-healing wounds,” said Prakash. “Electrochemical stimulations from the electronic bandage disrupt the communication of these bacteria and break their adhesion to the wound’s surface. The resulting removal of bacteria allows the wound to continue to heal properly.”

In addition to eradicating bacteria, the electronically-enhanced dressing potentially utilizes skin’s natural electric currents to further promote wound healing.

Components of electroceutical dressing prototypes were printed in the department by silk screening a silver-based ink on silk fabric.Components of electroceutical dressing prototypes were printed in the department by silk screening a silver-based ink on silk fabric.“The skin surrounding a wound naturally generates an electric field and current around and into the injury,” said Subramaniam, device co-inventor. “Our past research and resulting commercially-available current-based bandage have shown that an externally-applied electric field can augment the healing process on superficial wounds for both animals and humans.”

“The new device tested on Daisy builds on that investigation by using an electric current that allows it to be used on wounds up to one centimeter deep.”

The College of Veterinary Medicine encounters chronic and non-healing wounds frequently and provided the perfect proving ground for the new technology.

“Chronic and non-healing wounds are a significant problem for veterinary patients,” said Sarah Salyer, DVM, veterinary resident in the College of Veterinary Medicine, who advised Daisy’s case and presented the team’s findings at the June 2018 conference of the Society of Veterinary Soft Tissue Surgery.

“Wound management requires a significant time commitment from both veterinarians and owners, and chronic wounds also tend to be both frustrating and costly.”

Next steps

Now that the mechanical engineering team has demonstrated design, prototype development and proof-of-concept operation for the device, it’s ready to move into the next phase of development.

A team of mechanical engineering graduate students—Prashanth Mohana Sundaram, Varun Lochab and Travis Jones—supported the investigation.A team of mechanical engineering graduate students—Prashanth Mohana Sundaram, Varun Lochab and Travis Jones—supported the investigation.Future work will target in vitro testing. Researchers will aim to optimize the device’s design and operational characteristics, while establishing an understanding of its underlying mechanisms. The fundamental studies will be in collaboration with Daniel Wozniak and Paul Stoodley, faculty members in Ohio State’s Department of Microbiology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

The success with Daisy has motivated the team of researchers to continue their efforts with the College of Veterinary Medicine.

“Veterinary medicine at Ohio State presents a rich, collaborative environment that captures the ability to work with both veterinary scientists and clinicians,” said Prakash. “As we go through the process of developing the electroceutical device into a commercial product, we hope to continue our partnership with the veterinary team at Ohio State in order to evaluate its use in additional patients.”

Subramaniam is confident the team will successfully bring the bandage to market. “Our new printed electroceutical dressing represents the future of effective, easy-to-use medical interventions available to providers and consumers,” he said. “It highlights the myriad potential advancements at the intersection of engineering and medicine, for animals as well as humans.”

The research was funded by Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science L-Pilot Program, which is funded by a multiyear Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. The research has also received support from Ohio State’s Infectious Disease Institute.

*name changed

by Holly Henley, department communications coordinator,