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Could cold atmospheric air plasma be a potential novel therapy for treating infected diabetic foot ulcers?


RCSI StAR International PhD Programme Research Projects

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Dr N Stevens , Dr H Humphreys Applications accepted all year round Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

In Ireland, diabetes mellitus is reported to affect 207,490 people, or 6.5% of the population in the 20-79-year-old age group (www.diabetes.ie). By 2030, this number will rise to 278,850 people; representing an increase of 34.39% in fifteen years. Foot ulcers are common in patients with diabetes and they are the most frequent diabetes-related cause of hospitalisation. The HSE in Ireland estimates that one-in-twenty sufferers will get a foot ulcer in their lifetime and approximately half of these will be infected at presentation. Diabetic foot infections (DFIs) can be associated with significant morbidity and at least one-in-five result in lower extremity amputations. The ultimate treatment goal for a diabetic foot ulcer (DFU) is to achieve wound closure but management is dictated by the severity of the ulcer, presence of neuropathy, vascularity, and importantly, whether there is an infection. The impact of infection and the subsequent amputation of a limb can severely impact the quality of life of patients with diabetes mellitus.

Finding new therapies to treat infected ulcers would help improve patient care and prevent the patient losing their leg or foot. Plasma is the “fourth state of matter” and there are different types depending on the gas used. We generate plasma be applying high voltage electricity to a gas. We know that plasma can kill bacteria but we don’t know if it will work on the bacteria that infect the ulcers of patients with diabetes and we also do not know if this treatment is safe to use in patients.

This research proposal aims to investigate the potential of plasma to be a novel and non-invasive therapeutic that could quickly treat infected ulcers, promote healing and prevent the loss of limbs. We believe this would advance care and improve the quality of life of patients with diabetes mellitus


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