Say Goodbye to AntiBiotics: Cold Plasma Kills Bacteria

NEW YORK | Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 6:17am EDT

Imagine treating a wound without antibiotics but instead of low-temperature plasma. Scientists are working on a using cold plasma technology which can treat infections and work better than antibiotics.

Cold Plasma Kills Bacteria 1

Scientists are working on a using cold plasma technology which can treat infections and work better than antibiotics. Photo: Andrew Bolin/Flickr

Imagine treating a wound without antibiotics but instead of plasma, infact low-temperature plasma. Scientists are working on a using cold plasma technology which can treat infections and work better than antibiotics.

Non-thermal (low-temperature) physical plasma is not hot. Unlike ‘ordinary’ plasma – an ionized gas, sometimes called the fourth state of matter – which typically runs in about thousands of degrees Celsius.

These typical hot plasmas are used for sterilizing surgical equipment. However cold plasmas run at room temperature. Recently researchers were able to make plasmas steady at 35 to 40 degree celsius at atmospheric pressure.

Russian researchers used this cold plasma against microbes that lead to infections. When cold plasma was used on two common bacteria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus, which show up frequently in wound infections are resistant to antibiotics because they have a protective layer called a biofilm.

After five minutes under the cold plasma, the torch killed 99 percent of bacteria grown in a petri dish. The same was tested on rats where the plasma killed 90 percent of the bacteria on the wounds of the rats.

“Cold plasmas are able to kill bacteria by damaging microbial DNA and surface structures without being harmful to human tissues,” Dr. Svetlana Ermolaeva from the Gamaleya Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow says in a press release.

“Importantly we have shown that plasma is able to kill bacteria growing in biofilms in wounds, although thicker biofilms show some resistance to treatment.”

Antibiotics, you may have met your match. Not only does cold plasma treatment avoid the nasty side effects that drugs often bring, but the ionized torch destroys bacteria indiscriminately — whether it is antibiotic-resistant or not. There is no escaping a plasma attack.

The research is published in the Journal of Medical Microbiology. [via Discovery]

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