Better bandages destroy bacteria

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Bandages infused with electricity can help heal wounds faster than typical bandages or antibiotics—but for years, researchers have not really understood why.

A recent study by a team at The Ohio State University is offering new clues about the science behind those bandages, and researchers say the findings could help lead to better wound treatment.

The bandages belong to a class of therapies called electroceuticals, which are devices that use electrical impulses to treat medical issues such as wounds.

The study, published online recently in the journal Scientific Reports by a research team at The Ohio State University, is the first of its kind to look at the ways electroceutical bandages kill bacteria around a wound, allowing wounds to heal faster. Electroceutical bandages have been used to treat wounds since at least 2013.

“The goal is to heal non-healing or chronic wounds, and, if infection is present, to remove infection,” said Shaurya Prakash, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co- author of the study. “And what we wanted to understand was the mechanism behind why these electroceutical treatments work to kill bacteria.”

Biofilms are small communities of microorganisms—including bacteria—that can live on the surface of the skin or a wound. The communities are held together by something called extracellular polymeric substances—EPS for short. The substances are generally made up of fats and proteins, and can create a protective barrier that keeps bacteria safe from traditional clinical treatment options, including antibiotics. That means that even with traditional antibiotic treatments, some skin infections can linger and prevent wounds from healing.

But electroceutical bandages made of the right materials can break through that barrier, Ohio State’s research shows, destroying bacteria and allowing wounds to heal faster. The team developed a new model to study soft-tissue infections to learn more about how the bandages work.

The Ohio State study used haboti silk, a common Japanese weave, in the bandages. They silk-screened silver lines onto the silk, and attached a small device to deliver electricity to the biofilm. When they applied the electrified bandage to bacteria-laden biofilm in the lab, the bacteria were destroyed.

The research team used electron microscopes to monitor the bacteria. They saw that the electric current disrupted the biofilm enough to begin destroying bacteria. They also saw that bacteria continued to die off two days after the electric current was turned off. Their theory, based on these experiments, is that the bandage and electric current produce a potent antimicrobial chemical—hypochlorous acid—that takes over and kills bacteria without harming the healthy skin nearby.

This recent study was conducted on bacteria and biofilms in vitro, essentially meaning in a petri dish rather than on a human or an animal. Prakash is quick to point out that the studies set the stage for further research—experiments that will help scientists better understand the reasons why biofilms work the way they do. That fundamental understanding will help improve the design of electroceutical bandages, he said.

But in the meantime, Prakash and his team sent a few prototypes to The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Last year, veterinarians used the bandages to help heal an open sore on a dog with a wound that just wouldn’t get better, even while being treated with antibiotic medications.

“If infection is present, wounds will not heal,” Prakash said. “So we need to find a way to get through the biofilm to the bacteria.”

The dog arrived at Ohio State late in 2017 with an open, infected wound. Within a week of using the bandage, half of the wound had healed; within 11 days, the infection had cleared.

Those results are promising, Prakash said, but early. The team hopes to conduct additional studies and collaborate with microbiologists at Ohio State to further understand the reasons why these bandages successfully destroy bacteria when other treatment options have failed.

The research was funded by Ohio State’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science L-Pilot Program, which is funded by a multiyear Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health. The research has also received support from Ohio State’s Infectious Disease Institute.

Ohio State project aims to mitigate food safety risks in Ethiopia

Global health project supported by $3.39 million grant

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Food borne illnesses are critical global health problems, resulting in an estimated 600 million illnesses annually. Low- and middle-income countries bear most of the burden, largely due to poor food handling practices, weak regulatory systems and inadequate food safety laws.

Barbara Kowalcyk, an assistant professor in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at The Ohio State University, wants nothing more than to reduce the risk of food borne illness. She hopes her research study funded by a $3.39 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Department for International Development of the United Kingdom (DFID) will provide important information that can be used to help improve food safety and enhance nutrition in low- to middle-income countries.

Over the next four years, the grant will be used to develop and implement a risk-based framework for food safety management and resource allocation with the goal of reducing food borne illnesses and deaths and increasing equitable consumption of a safe, affordable and nutritious diet.

“Food borne diseases are a significant public health issue,” Kowalcyk said. “And we cannot secure good nutrition without food safety. There is a lot of opportunity to make a significant impact in Ethiopia. I hope our work translates into fewer illnesses, less burden and healthier lives.”

The research and capacity-building project led by Kowalcyk, who is also a member of the Translational Data Analytics initiative, builds on the strong foundation of food safety work conducted at Ohio State. The work will focus on three major food safety hazards in Ethiopia, including non-typhoidal Salmonella, diarrheagenic Escherichia coli and Campylobacter.

Consumption of beef and dairy is increasing in Ethiopia and elsewhere in Africa as their economies improve. However, traditional processing of these products occurs in informal settings, utilizes raw products and rarely involves safe food handling practices such as pasteurization and thorough cooking before eating. The study will investigate cost-effective, gender-sensitive and socially-culturally acceptable ways to improve the safety of raw beef and dairy products.

“Food safety is among the key elements in food value chain development and this project will undoubtedly provide many in Ethiopia with the information and training they need to improve safe handling practices,” said Jemal Yousuf, acting president of Haramaya University. “To play a key role in this collaborative effort will be a rewarding experience.”

Researchers will collect data on the nature, scope and costs associated with food borne illness; develop, test and evaluate intervention strategies for improving the safety of raw beef and dairy products; share findings and public health impacts; and engage government agencies in establishing priorities for future food safety efforts. The project aims to implement a risk-based decision-making roadmap for food safety that will benefit other low- to middle-income countries with similar food systems. Long-term sustainability of food safety practices will be achieved by building capacity at Ethiopian regulatory institutes and academic institutions, including training provided through Ohio State’s One Health Summer Institute held annually in Ethiopia.

The project will involve faculty and research expertise from the Global One Health initiative’s (GOHi) eastern Africa office, the Colleges of Education and Human Ecology and Public Health, the University of Florida’s Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Livestock Systems, the International Livestock Research Institute, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute, University of Gondar and Haramaya University, as well as several other academic institutions and government agencies in Ethiopia.

“This project is an excellent example of multidisciplinary teamwork among key Ohio State initiatives such as the Discovery Themes, GOHi and the colleges that aims to build mutually beneficial partnerships that make a global impact in high-priority areas using the One Health model,” said Wondwossen Gebreyes, executive director of GOHi and professor of veterinary preventive medicine.

The Ohio State team involved in the project includes Kowalcyk, principal investigator; Gebreyes; Ahmed Yousef, professor, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; Robert Scharff, associate professor, College of Education and Human Ecology; Mark Weir, assistant professor, College of Public Health; Getnet Yimer, GOHi Eastern Africa regional director; Kassahun Asmare, GOHi Eastern Africa deputy regional director; and Kara Morgan, research scientist, College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.


The Conversation

A cure for HIV? Feasible but not yet realized

March 6, 2019

The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), shown here as tiny purple spheres, causes the disease known as AIDS. Mark Ellisman and Tom Deerinck, National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research

Author: Allison Webel, Assistant Professor of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University

Disclosure statement: Allison Webel does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

This week a team of scientists and physicians from the U.K. published news of a second HIV positive man, in London, who is in long-term (18-month) HIV remission after undergoing treatment for Hodgkins lymphoma. The unexpected success has launched a new round of discussion about a potential cure for HIV.

Since 2008, scientists have been trying to replicate the treatment that cured the “Berlin patient” of HIV. At the time, many in the field of HIV research were excited to learn that this man, who tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus in Berlin and had recently undergone treatment for acute myeloid leukemia, appeared to have been cured of his HIV. Until now, success in replicating that cure has been limited.

What is HIV?

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS. Since the virus was first discovered in the 1980s, more than 75 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV. Today, almost 37 million people live with HIV. Of these, about 1.1 million live in the U.S.

Infection with HIV almost always led to AIDS, which in turn was almost always fatal. The field was revolutionized in 1996 with the introduction of HIV anti-retroviral therapy medications. These drugs halt HIV from replicating and allow an infected person to regain a functioning immune system. These medications are so effective that today a person living with HIV has almost the same life expectancy of someone without HIV infection. However, these medications must be taken every day, have multiple distressing side effects, and can cost thousands of dollars each month.

Yet even with this life-extending treatment, a functional HIV cure, defined as when someone with HIV no longer tests positive for the virus and does not need to take these medications, has remained elusive.

The ‘cure’ treatment

All of that seemed to change when in 2008 at the Conference on Retrovirus and Opportunistic Infections in Boston, Massachusetts, the news broke of the Berlin patient, named Timothy Ray Brown, who seemed to have been cured of his HIV. In order to achieve that serendipitous “cure,” Brown had to undergo aggressive treatment for his acute myeloid leukemia that involved two hematopoietic stem cell transplantations – in which a patient’s bone marrow is damaged – and full body irradiation.

This complex treatment involves destroying a person’s own immune system with high doses of chemotherapy or radiation. Then the patient receives a transplant of new stem cells from either themselves or a donor.

This is a difficult treatment that carries a high risk of infection and other complications, such as graft-versus-host disease, blood clots and liver disease.

Researchers learned that Brown and the “London patient” both shared a novel treatment course. In the case of both Brown and now the London patient, the new blood cells transplanted into them were from donors who had two copies of a gene mutation for the CCR5 receptor. This CCR5 receptor mutation – present in about 1 percent of people of European descent – prevents HIV viruses from entering immune cells. This renders them resistant to most HIV infection.

However, it’s not just surviving the transplant that confers the HIV “cure” or remission. After receiving treatment, both patients were eventually taken off their anti-retroviral medications and subsequent examination showed that that even with very sensitive blood tests, the team could not detect HIV in their blood. The inability to find HIV in their blood, coupled with the missing CCR5 receptor, constitutes the HIV viral remission of the London patient announced earlier this week.

Top panel illustrates the treatment course for the London patient. Step 1: Chemotherapy; Step 2: The patient received a stem cell transplant from a donor with a genetic mutation in the CCR5 receptor gene; Step 3: Sixteen months after the patient’s transplant, HIV medications were interrupted. Patient is in HIV remission 18 months later. Lower left panel shows the target for HIV, the CD4+ T-cell. Most HIV uses both the CD4 and CCR5 receptor to enter a person’s immune cells. Lower right panel shows that after the stem cell transplant, the patient’s immune cells no longer displayed a working CCR5 receptor, which blocks more HIV from entering his CD4 cells. Cynthia Rentrope / Case Western Reserve University, CC BY-SA

What the new case shows

Given recent disappointments after hematopoietic stem cell transplantations in people living with HIV, the team reporting on remission of the London patient does not describe their patient as cured. Neither should anyone else.

While a second patient experiencing HIV viral remission with a slightly less toxic cancer treatment is certainly encouraging progress, an 18-month remission does not equal a cure.

Also, while the London patient’s cancer treatment was less intense, with just chemotherapy and the stem cell transplant, it was still toxic and is not a course of treatment that otherwise healthy people living with HIV infection should embark upon.

Most importantly, the HIV community learned that Brown’s case was not unique. This gives us another, and perhaps greater reason, to hope for future revolutions in the HIV cure scientific agenda.


Gavin Moodie, Adjunct professor, RMIT University: Thanx very much for this most informative account. I think I now understand the insistence of another expert that this treatment is not generally replicable. But might one want to change the genes of people who do not have HIV to prevent them from getting the virus?

Do the reports of the Berlin and London patients improve experts’ understanding of the fundamental mechanisms at work here, or are they just interesting facts which do not add much to what is already known?

The Conversation

11 things you can do to adjust to losing that 1 hour of sleep this weekend

March 7, 2019


Deepa Burman, Co- Director Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center and Associate professor of pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh

Hiren Muzumdar, Co-director, Pediatric Sleep Evaluation Center, University of Pittsburgh

Disclosure statement: Deepa Burman is affiliated with American Board of Internal Medicine as a member of the Sleep Medicine Board Exam Test Question Writing Committee.

Hiren Muzumdar does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: University of Pittsburgh provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.

As clocks march ahead of time on March 10, 2019 and daylight saving time begins, there is a lot of anxiety around losing the hour of sleep and how to adjust to this change.

Usually an hour seems like an insignificant amount of time but considering the global epidemic of our sleep deprived society, even this minimal loss causes many important problems. There are serious health repercussions of this forcible shift in the body clock.

Springing forward is usually harder that falling backward. Why is this so?

People’s natural internal body clock and daily rhythms are slightly longer than 24 hours and every day, so we have a tendency to delay our sleep schedules. Thus, “springing forward” is going against that natural rhythm. It is like a mild case of jet lag caused by traveling east when we lose time and have a hard time falling asleep at an earlier hour.

We co-lead a sleep evaluation center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Childrens’ Hospital of Pittsburgh and take care of patients with different kinds of sleep disorders. We regularly see patients who are dealing with the effects of sleep loss. We fully understand what’s going on with them because of our in-depth understanding of how the sleep-wake processes work.

Consequences of sleep loss vary

Many studies have now demonstrated that there is an increased risk of heart attacks, stroke and high blood pressure associated with sleep deprivation. Workplace injuries increase and so do automobile accidents. Adolescents, of course, find it harder to wake up in time to get to school.

Is there something we can do to deal with this loss of sleep and change of body clock timing?

Of course. The first step to dealing with this is increasing awareness and using the power of knowledge to combat this issue. Here are some quick tips to prepare yourself for the upcoming weekend.

Do not start with a “sleep debt.” Ensure that you and your child get adequate sleep on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to the time change each year. Most adults need anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep daily to perform adequately. Children have varying requirements for sleep depending on their age.

Prepare for the time change. Start going to bed or putting your kids to bed 15 to 20 minutes earlier each night in the week preceding the time change. Also, move your wake timing during the week as this will help you fall asleep earlier. Aim for waking up an hour earlier on the Saturday before the time change.

Use light to your advantage. Light is the strongest cue that helps adjusts our internal body clock. When possible, expose yourself to bright light early in the morning upon awakening. If you live somewhere where natural light may be limited in the morning after clocks change, use artificial bright lights to signal to your body clock to wake up earlier. As the season progresses, this will be less of an issue as the sun rises earlier in the day. Conversely, at night, minimize exposure to bright light, especially the blue light emitting from screens of electronic media. Turn off electronics even earlier than the usual recommended duration of one to two hours before bedtime. In some places, it might be helpful to have room-darkening curtains in the bedroom depending on how much sunlight that room gets at bedtime.

Carefully plan your day and evening activities. Start planning your day the night before the time change with a good night’s sleep.

Incorporate exercise in the morning and leave relaxing activities for the evening. This may help you to wind down. Take a walk even if it is just around the house or your office.

Set an alarm for an earlier bedtime and earlier electronics turn-off time.

Start with a protein-heavy breakfast, as sleep deprivation can increase appetite and craving for high-carbohydrate foods and sugars.

Stop using caffeine after noon.

Adults, decline that wine at bedtime.

Try to be patient with your kids as they adjust to the new times. We all know that sleep deprivation impacts the entire family. Children are just as confused about this change as adults. Some kids have a harder time adjusting than others. You may notice more frequent meltdowns, irritability, loss of attention and focus. Set aside more quiet electronic-media-free time in the evening or maybe a 20-minute nap in the early afternoon while they deal with this change.

Use electronics judiciously. Television, smartphones, tablets and video games are some of the perils of the world we live in. While there are benefits of this technology, especially in helping people stay connected, it can be disruptive at bedtime and in the bedroom. The blue light emitted from these devices signals our internal clock to wake up later the next day and shifts our body rhythm. It is a modern-day challenge that we have to constantly deal with preserving our natural sleep wake rhythm and our health.

As the National Sleep Foundation celebrates its annual Sleep Awareness Week March 10 to 16, let’s pledge to uphold its theme to “Begin with Sleep” when planning for our day. A good night’s sleep is the recipe for a productive and fulfilling day.

OIU agents offer safety tips for drugged drinks locally and abroad

(COLUMBUS) – Whether college students are going to bars and parties on campuses or away on spring break, they need to be mindful of their surroundings and what is going into their drinks. Agents with the Ohio Investigative Unit want students who are going away on spring break to keep these safety tips in mind, just like they would locally.

Before friends leave for the beach or a night out, OIU recommends they stick together until they are home safe and to be on the lookout for drink tampering. Anyone who sees someone tampering with a drink should get that person out of the situation and contact authorities. Tips to protect yourself and your friends against drink tampering:

Know that both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks can be drugged;

Watch your drink being poured and served;

Do not leave your drink – Get a new one;

If you see a drink being tampered with or an impaired person, your involvement – whether directly or by contacting security and law enforcement – can save someone’s life or future;

Likewise, bar staff is reminded it is their responsibility to get involved and to make sure their patrons are safe.

“You don’t have to know the person to know that they’re impaired and cannot help themselves,” OIU Commander, Captain Gary Allen said. “We know drugged drinks can happen here and elsewhere. It’s the people around who can make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t turn your back, act!”

Student groups and organizations can learn more about how to protect themselves when going out by scheduling a Sober Truth program. Also, bar staff is encouraged to contact OIU to learn about keeping their patrons safe through an Alcohol Server Knowledge program. Both the Sober Truth and ASK programs are free. To schedule either program, contact OIU at (614) 644-2415.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol’s Ohio Investigative Unit agents are plain-clothed fully sworn peace officers. OIU is charged with enforcing the state’s liquor laws and is the only state law enforcement agency specifically tasked with investigating food stamp fraud crimes. Agents also investigate tobacco violations. Follow OIU on Facebook at and on Twitter by logging onto

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This story was provided by The Ohio State University.

This story was provided by The Ohio State University.