Will the cold plasma silicone patch soon replace your antibiotics in your medicine cabinet? The German medtech Coldplasmatech was inspired by Star Trek to invent a device that accelerates the rate at which wounds heal. This is what happens when fiction starts to become reality.
Science fiction and healing
How does Coldplasmatech explain their technology to the masses? “By comparing it to Star Trek’s dermal regenerator,” Doctor Carsten Mahrenholz, the company’s CEO, told Digital Trends. Picture this: you slice your finger open, and instead of being bothered by it for days, you watch it heal in minutes. “That’s basically what we’ve developed,” Mahrenholz says. He won Germany’s innovation award last May.
The birth of a patch
The device they’ve created has the same qualities as plasma, a substance discovered in 1928 by Irving Langmuir, who went on to win a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1932. According to physics, plasma is the fourth state of matter, after liquid, solid and gas. It’s electrically neutral, composed of positive and negative ions. The whole concept remains a bit of a mystery today.
When plasma comes into contact with another surface, its energy immediately transforms whatever it’s touching. Coldplasmatech’s silicone patches consist of ionized gas and a power supply. This bioactivity quickly treats infection and chronic wounds. It also benefits from an efficient bacteria elimination. And as for the silicone? It is very resistant to environmental influences and has excellent mechanical properties.
In 2014, Coldplasmatech partnered up with the medical silicone designer Wacker. Since then, it’s used two types of silicone for its innovative bandaid. The first is gelatinous with very high adhesion to make sure the patch remains in place on the skin. The second is a soft silicone rubber with a dry surface to prevent it from sticking to the surface of the injury. And that’s how the patch was born.
Antibiotics: a real pain
Thanks to its ability to both eliminate bacteria and activate cells under tension, the patch may soon replace antibiotics. “We are massacring multi-resistant germs,” Karsten Mahrenholz told the German weekly magazine Wirtschaftswoche. But there remains one main hurdle to the complete elimination of antibiotics: for now, the patch is only used for external wounds.
Antibiotics used to treat infections on chronic wounds often come with their share of side effects. Often administered for several weeks, these can cause allergic reactions, vomiting or diarrhea. Antibiotics can also encourage the proliferation of “superbugs” resistant to treatment. The plasma patch would make this all a thing of the past, since it works in two minutes and is completely painless.
After successful clinical trials, Coldplasmatech is now working to get a license to distribute its miraculous patches to pharmacies, hospitals, and even directly to patients around the world. Carsten Mahrenholz promises that, “We will do our best to make this cold plasma accessible to everyone.” The CEO believes his patch could be marketed at a price five times lower than current treatments before the end of the year.