More than six million people in the United States have persistent wounds—open sores that never seem to heal or, once apparently healed, return with a vengeance, says a statement released by Tel Aviv University (TAU), Tel Aviv, Israel. The bedridden elderly and infirm are prone to painful and dangerous pressure ulcers, and diabetics are susceptible to wounds caused by a lack of blood flow to the extremities.

"The problem is chronic," says Amihay Freeman, professor, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology. To help solve it, he’s developed a device that uses a solution to whisk away dead tissue, bathing the wound while keeping dangerous bacteria away.

Freeman’s Dermastream provides an enzyme-based solution that flows continuously over the wound, offering an alternative treatment to combat a problem for which current treatments are costly and labor-intensive, says the statement. Dermastream has passed clinical trials in Israeli hospitals and may be available in the United States within the next year, says Freeman.

Employing a solution developed at Freeman’s TAU laboratory, Dermastream offers a new approach to chronic wound care, a specialty known as continuous streaming therapy.

"Our basic idea is simple," says Freeman. "We treat the wound by streaming a solution in a continuous manner. Traditional methods require wound scraping to remove necrotic tissue. That is expensive, painful, and extremely uncomfortable to the patient. And while active ingredients applied with bandages on a wound may work for a couple of hours, after that the wound fights back. The bacteria build up again, creating a tedious and long battle."

Dermastream flows under a plastic cover that seals the wound, providing negative pressure that promotes faster healing, and the active biological ingredient, delivered in a hypertonic medium, works to heal hard-to-shake chronic wounds, says the statement. Freeman says that while traditional bandaging methods may take months to become fully effective, Dermastream can heal chronic wounds in weeks.

Dermastream is intended for use in hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, and for home care. Freeman has founded a company that is collaborating with a Veterans Association hospital in Tucson, Ariz, to bring the technology to the US market.

Dermastream was an outgrowth of Freeman’s original laboratory research, which investigated the use of enzymes for pharmaceutical applications. Enzymes were previously applied to wounds as ointments, but were slow-acting and required a great deal of time to apply. Coupling the enzymes with a continuous stream of liquid, he unlocked the power of the enzymes in a way that works and makes sense, he says.

"My solution helps doctors regain control of the chronic wound, making management more efficient, and vastly improving the quality of their patients’ lives," Freeman said in the statement.

[Source: Tel Aviv University]