Live blue-green algae patches accelerate wound healing in mice - and may help treat chronic wounds in humans (such as those with diabetes).
About a quarter of diabetics have chronic wounds due to poor blood circulation and other complications. In severe cases, the affected body part must be amputated. However, sometimes such damage can be healed with oxygen therapy, since O2 helps the skin heal.
It is for this purpose that scientists from the University of Nanjing (China) have developed a therapeutic patch filled with live blue-green algae of the species Synechococcus elongatus. These microorganisms are photosynthetic - that is, they generate oxygen in the presence of sunlight.
In addition, the patch contains hydrogel particles that absorb the generated oxygen and transport it to the deeper layers of the skin. The cost of creating one bacterial patch is only $ 1.
In experiments in mice, the patches showed a 45 percent increase in wound healing, compared with 20 percent that standard oxygen therapy provides. Plus, the wounds healed three days faster and the process had no side effects. Tests will continue on larger animals, so that sooner or later it will move on to human testing.