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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Healing wounds using just air, sound and water

Published: 1 July 2022
Treatment (right) vs Control (left)
Treatment (right) vs Control in human full-thickness epidermis wound models (H+S stained)

Start-up company demonstrtates wound healing in the laboratory on living skin using just air, sound and water, with its patented technology. The technology also clean biofilm from infected wounds.


Evidence of the ability to heal wounds using just air, sound and water has been published. NAMRIP-sponsored collaborative research between Sloan Water Technology Ltd. (SWT) and Global-NAMRIP researchers at the Universities of Southampton and Winchester, enabled laboratory studies of skin, both dead and living. Inventor-in-Chief at SWT, Professor Timothy Leighton is also Chair of NAMRIP - he conceived and led the study, and summarised the findings as follows:

“It is no easy matter to project sound down streams of water, but we have in the past produced several technologies that do this, passing microscopic air bubbles down the flow of water to clean both physically robust surfaces (such as surgical steel instruments) and delicate surfaces (such as lettuce leaves), without damaging them. However, it was always a dream to invent a device that not only cleans, but also cures chronic wounds, and this publication represents the first step. Because the technology uses just air, sound and water, it does not stimulate the growth of antibiotic resistance and the rise of superbugs, which is a currently unavoidable consequence of treating wounds with antibiotics. The NHS annually spends over £5-billion of its budget treating chronic wounds and the dreadful consequences they have on quality of life. The fact that these wounds are chronic indicates that traditional treatments (dressings, antibiotics etc.) have had limited benefit.We are excited to be seeking regulatory approval for patient trials, but until we obtain that, these laboratory tests are an important first step.”

“One very exciting achievement was demonstrating preliminary evidence that we have not just managed to stimulate healing by removing bacterial infection. We also have very early evidence that we are beginning to realise our dream of jump-starting stalled healing of chronic wounds by stimulating the migration of keratinocytes. These are human cells that are vital to the wound healing process, but in chronic wounds the healing progression becomes stalled in the inflammatory stage: it’s as if the keratinocytes are like stalled engines, that cannot proceed with the healing process. It is our ambition to use just sound, water and air to jump-start the keratinocytes (and associated cells) back into action: one day, to heal currently incurable wounds using just air, sound and water. The early laboratory data suggests we are possibly getting there.”

The paper’s first author, Dr Tom Secker, said:

“We are very excited by having this proof-of-concept study data published and thank the Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (Global-NAMRIP) for funding this work (Global-NAMRIP was initially set up using a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)). It is extremely exciting to see the ability of air, sound, and water to not only improve healing without drugs, as mentioned by Prof Leighton, but also the efficiency in which we can gently irrigate and remove biofilm from the complexity of a wound.”     

Tom recently left the University to take up employment with SWT. 


The figure shows an example Hematoxylin and Eosin stained human full-thickness epidermis wound models following either no treatment or a 2 minute treatment with LAWS, demonstrating improved regrowth of the epithelial tongue (indicated with the arrows) following LAWS treatment.


The paper is open access to read via the following links:


Secker, T. J., Harling, C. C., Hand, C., Voegeli, D., Keevil, C. W. and Leighton, T. G. (2022) A proof-of-concept study of the removal of early and late phase biofilm from skin wound models using a liquid acoustic stream. International Wound Journal, 1-22 (doi: 10.1111/iwj.13818).

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