Researchers from the University of Freiburg in Germany developed a groundbreaking biochip that is able to use electricity to heal wounds up to 3 times faster than the natural healing process. For people with chronic wounds (such as the elderly), diabetes, or people with poor blood circulation and with wounds that take a long time to heal, this innovation could be a literal lifesaver because chronic wounds are a societal issue that is often overlooked.
The biochip has been engineered to amplify the electric fields that guide skin cells to the site of an injury, which the human body naturally generates. Although it may not be as quick as a Marvel superhero, this innovation can speed up the recovery time of small tears and lacerations. The chip is made up of artificial skin cells called keratinocytes, which are crucial for the healing process. The application of electric fields on one side of the wound with alternating fields on both sides of the wound has been compared with an electrical push from just one side of the wound proving most effective at repairing the artificial skin in the quickest time.
The researchers observed that both healthy keratinocytes and keratinocytes designed to resemble those in people with diabetes migrated up to 3 times faster than skin cells without any electrical interference. Fortunately, none of the cells were damaged by the electrical fields tested. Chronic wounds that do not heal quickly raise the risk of infection, delaying healing further, and in severe cases, it can lead to amputation. Hence, any process that speeds up the healing process is worth investigating for patients and healthcare providers.
For the next stage of development, the researchers will test the biochip’s effectiveness on actual wounds in living humans; practical applications of this technology rely on translating the cheap and readily available used materials in the experiment to real-world situations. They are looking into how different skin cells interact during stimulation to develop a concept to ‘scan’ wounds and adapt the stimulation based on the individual wound.
We are very excited to learn about this treatment because it has the potential to revolutionize the healing process and provide a new way of life to millions of people worldwide. Let’s see what is coming next!
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