| Press Release
Burn healing facilitated with the use of cold plasmas
In a paper published in the Journal of Pathology, a team of researchers from the Army Biomedical Research Institute and the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP, École Polytechnique/CNRS/Observatoire de Paris/Université Paris-Sud/Sorbonne Université) has shown, for the first time, the beneficial effects of cold plasmas on the healing of post-burn skin grafts.
Every day throughout the world, more than 800 people die as a result of third-degree burns. Every year in France, nearly 12,000 burns patients require hospitalization, 30% of them children aged under five.
A major public health issue as well as military health issue (about 10% of combat injuries are accompanied by severe burns), the prognosis for severe burns could be significantly improved thanks to the research described in this publication. The team, which includes doctors, biologists and plasma physicists, managed to demonstrate the benefits of applying cold plasma to grafted skin, grafting being the most widely used technique to replace and help to reconstitute skin damaged by extensive third-degree burns.
Cold plasmas are partially-ionized gases, i.e. gases within which some of the atoms and molecules have lost their electrons after an input of energy. They can easily be produced in the laboratory or industrially by applying an electric current to a gas. The plasma source used for this study, designed and characterized by the Plasma Physics Laboratory (LPP), generates an electrical discharge in a flow of helium, which on contact with the ambient air, in turn creates reactive chemical species of oxygen and nitrogen such as nitric oxide, known to promote healing.
The study shows that skin grafted after a third-degree burn and subjected to low doses of cold plasma heals more quickly thanks to better generation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) in the graft. The nitric oxide generated by the plasma is one of the possible explanations for this improved vascularization because it has been shown that the plasma increases the bioavailability of nitric oxide in the treated endothelial cells. The source of the nitric oxide may be the plasma (exogenous inflow) or the cell itself: the study shows that the treatment triggers the production of nitric oxide synthase, a protein that enables cells to produce nitric oxide (endogenous production). However, other reactive chemical species and the electrical field produced by the plasma may also be involved.
The study was carried out as part of the PlasmaSkin program, co-financed by École Polytechnique and its Foundation as well as by the Defense Innovation Agency (AID) of the French Ministry of Defense. A thesis (C. Duchesne), co-financed by AID and École Polytechnique, was also carried out by this program.
Read the full publication in the Journal of Pathology:
- Article: "Cold atmospheric plasma modulates endothelial nitric oxide synthase signalling and enhances burn wound neovascularisation" Constance Duchesne, Sébastien Banzet, Jean-Jacques Lataillade, Antoine Rousseau, Nadira Frescaline. The Journal of Pathology (2019).
Legend Skin is an assembly of cells. It consists of three primary layers the epidermis, the dermis and subcutaneous fat. 1st degree, 2nd degree and 3rd degree burns refer to the depth of the damage caused to the layers of skin. The physical plasma is a neutral ionized gas created by breaking apart the bonds of gas molecules and making a plume of charged particles - electrons and ions. In this new study the physical plasma was shown to improve the formation of new blood vessels in the dermis. The dermis is a connective tissue layer that gives the skin most of its substance. Improved blood supply in the dermis is beneficial for the burn wound and graft healing.
 Cells lining blood vessel walls.
 Images from Servier Medical Art (https://smart.servier.com/) were used in the creation of this illustration.
About the École Polytechnique Foundation
Created in 1987 by twenty leading French companies at the request of Bernard Esambert (class of 1954), the Chairman of École Polytechnique Board of Directors at the time, and with the support of the Alumni Association, the École Polytechnique Foundation builds bridges between the business world and École Polytechnique, including its students and research professors. The Foundation is a recognized public-benefit organization that works to promote École Polytechnique. This status entitles it to receive gifts and bequests from both individuals and companies. The funds raised are directed to École Polytechnique programs, facilities, students, and research professors.