Posted on May 03, 2017, 6 a.m.
New antibacterial wound cover, made from the shells of crustaceans, could prevent thousands of infections each year.
A research team from the Lodz University of Technology in Poland has created a bandage that could reduce the risk of wound infections and protection from antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The team, led by Dr. Radoslaw Wach, published their findings in the May issue of the journal Radiation Physics and Chemistry.
Antibiotic-Resistant Bacterial Infections
The World Health Organization (WHO) recently identified a list of 12 bacterial strains that are currently resistant to most or all available antibiotics. With the list, the organization urged medical researchers to make finding new treatments for these infections a priority.
Overuse of common antibiotics like penicillin has caused some bacteria to build an immunity to these medications. In these instances, stronger drug therapies must be used to fight ordinary infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 23,000 Americans die from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections each year. A 2014 report from the UK calculates that bacterial infections could be responsible for 10 million deaths per year by 2050.
Infection Prevention in Wound Care
Wound patients make up a substantial number of those who succumb to bacterial infections. Deep wounds can take several weeks to heal. Even when cleaned and properly taken care of, open wounds can still easily collect bacteria.
Hydrogel bandages have been used throughout history by medical professionals. These dressings hold moisture against the surface of the wound. This helps keep the wound cleaner by allowing the body to shed dead tissue more easily. The strength and elasticity of the bandage create a protective layer over the wound that prevents bacteria from entering or growing.
Chitosan is a substance that is extracted from crustacean shells, like crab or shrimp. The substance has unique antimicrobial properties that researchers hope can help stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant infections. It also helps stop blood flow, which makes it ideal for wound treatment.
Dr. Wach’s team extracted and purified chitosan from the shells of various crustaceans. Using a method called irradiation, they then fused the chitosan to sterile hydrogel bandages using a lactic acid solution. When applied to a wound, the biologically active bandage speeds up the body’s healing process. Less healing time means less opportunity for bacteria to enter the wound and cause antibiotic-resistant infections.
The Future in Antimicrobial Controls
Dr. Wach hopes that this new bandage will soon become the standard in wound care. He believes that decreasing healing times for serious wounds is an important first step in fighting potential worldwide bacterial infections. He calculates that tens of thousands of infections could be prevented each year by using chitosan-infused hydrogel bandages.
According to the WHO’s report on antibiotic-resistant bacteria, patients in a hospital or nursing home setting who require medical devices like catheters and ventilators are at the highest risk of contracting these infections.