Plasma Therapy As an Alternative for Antibiotics
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Plasma Therapy As an Alternative for Antibiotics

The last decades, increasing numbers of bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics. Obviously, this could become a problem. Luckily, research towards alternatives is well on its way. Read here about plasma therapy against infections.

Antibiotic Resistance

Many bacteria are becoming (or already are) resistant to the antibiotics we use. Through continual exposure these micro-organisms have developed mechanisms to deal with the antibiotics, rendering them less effective or even useless.

Furthermore, several micro-organisms show the capacity to grow in protective layers, so-called biofilms, which are made up out of micro-organism cells that stick to each other and produce their own matrix.

These two reasons can lead to situations where antibiotics provide no more help against certain infections. New research has provided a possible alternative: cold plasma torches.


Plasma is often referred to as the ‘fourth phase’ in which matter can be found, next to the solid, liquid and gaseous phases. Plasma is comparable to a gas, but all particles are ionized, which means they have a positive or negative charge.

Lately, matter in the plasma phase is increasingly used in technical and medical applications, for example to disinfect medical instruments.

Plasma vs. Bacteria

The researchers tested the effect of a low temperature plasma torch on the fight against different bacteria that are often responsible for wound infections. In the laboratory, these plasma torches did prove lethal to 99% of the bacteria. On top of this, 90% of the antibiotic resistant bacteria that might cause wound infections in rats were effectively terminated after a treatment of only ten minutes.

It appears that cold plasma can kill bacteria by damaging their DNA and surface structures, such as their membranes. This treatment has two additional advantages:

  • The DNA and surface structures of bacteria can be damaged, without detrimental effects on the neighboring human tissue.
  • The nature of the plasma in non-specific, which means that it is a lot harder for the bacteria to develop resistance against it.

So, cold plasma torches seem to provide a very good alternative for antibiotics in the treatment of bacterial infections. Keep in mind, though, that this is just a first step towards use in human beings. Nevertheless, if these findings are corroborated by additional research, cold plasma torches can become an important weapon in the fight against infections, resistant or otherwise.


  • Ermolaeva, S.A.; Varfolomeev, A.F.; Chernuka, M.Y.; Yurov, D.S.; Vasiliev, M.M.; Kaminskaya, A.A.; Moisenovich, M.M.; Romanova, J.M.; Murashev, A.N.; Selezneva, I.I.; Shimizu, T.; Sysolyatina, E.V.; Shaginyan, I.A.; Petrov, O.F.; Mayevsky, E.I.; Fortov, V.E.; Morfill, G.E.; Naroditsky, B.F. & Gintsburg, A.L. (2011). Bactericidial effects of non-thermal argon plasma in vitro, in biofilms and in the animal model of infected wounds. Journal of Medical Microbiology. 60, pp. 75 – 83.
  • Society for General Microbiology (2010, December 15). Plasma therapy: An alternative to antibiotics?. ScienceDaily.

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Comments (2)

good article

good info