Microbeads may help prevent burn wound infections: study

Microbeads are terrible for the environment, but they show promise for healing burns. That's according to computer simulations showing that microbeads coated with protein may be able to block bacteria that could otherwise infect burns and delay the healing process. Past studies using burnt rats have shown similar promising results.

Burns, particularly large burns, are prone to infection. These infections interfere with the healing process, potentially slowing it down, causing an expansion of the wound, scarring, or even becoming life-threatening. Past studies have looked at various ways to reduce or eliminate these harmful infections, and microbeads may be the answer.

Microbeads are tiny plastic spheres first developed as an antibiotic alternative, according to the University of Birmingham. To make them work, scientists coat the microbeads in the same protein that bacteria uses to bind to host cells. By introducing these coated microbeads into the site, the bacteria must compete with them in an effort to attach to the host cells.

Preventing that attachment could reduce or even eliminate bacterial infections. Past studies used rats to research microbeads' effect on burn wounds; they showed potential, something the new computer models are backing up.

The University of Birmingham's Dr. Paul Roberts worked with colleagues to create a mathematical model for simulating microbeads treatments of rat burn wounds infected with a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. According to the researchers, this bacterium is frequently the source of infections in human burn wounds.

Various infection scenarios were analyzed, as were different microbead-based treatment strategies. Based on their findings, the researchers reveal that microbead treatments combined with debridement may "significantly reduce or eliminate" the bacterial infections. The full study can be found here.

SOURCE: University of Birmingham