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

Treating chronic wounds without antibiotics

Dr Christopher (Kit) Harling, a postgraduate research student in the School of Engineering, presented this research at the Global-NAMRIP Festival of Early Career Research on 25 June 2019. The poster can be downloaded via the 'Useful Downloads' link below.

Chronic infected venous leg ulcer
Chronic infected venous leg ulcer

Chronic wounds remain a major issue for patients and health services with over 2.2 m patients each year in the UK. Although many pathologies lie behind chronic wounds, infection is recognised as the largest remediable factor. In wound infections, the bacteria causing the infection are in the biofilm phenotype. The biofilm provides increased adhesion for the bacteria along with protection against host defences and relative resistance to antibiotics.


Kit Harling poster

An acoustically activated fluid stream relies upon the ability of sound to induce Faraday waves on the surface of bubbles in the fluid. Combined with acoustic radiation forces that drive the bubbles into crevices, these ‘bubbles with waves’ can remove contaminants from surfaces.

We have grown early biofilm on wounded, reconstituted human epithelium and demonstrated that we can remove the biofilm with the AAFS. However, we noticed that control samples that had not been infected but had been washed with AAFS showed increased re-epithelialisation indicating improved healing.

Future work will include removing more mature biofilm from pig and human skin explants and further exploration of the innate healing action of AAFS with the ultimate aim of a small clinical trial in patients with venous leg ulcers.

The authors of this research are Harling, C. C.1, Secker, T. J.2, Hands, C2 Voegeli, D3, Keevil, C.W.2 and Leighton, T.G.1,4

1 Faculty of Engineering & the Physical Sciences, University of Southampton, 2 Faculty of Environmental & Life Sciences, University of Southampton, 3 Faculty of Health & Wellbeing, University of Winchester, 4 Sloan Water Technology Ltd

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