Cold plasma against chronic wounds

plasma care® brings Max Planck research to clinical practice

plasma care® device for the treatment of chronic and acute wounds. © terraplasma medical

New hope is here for patients with open wounds: plasma care® products from the medical technology company terraplasma medical GmbH kill fungi and bacteria - including those that are largely resistant to antibiotics - in chronic but also acute wounds without damaging skin tissue. Following market approval, the mobile, battery-powered devices in "apron pocket format" which are suitable for inpatient and outpatient treatment are now being marketed by Viromed, and are therefore accessible for millions of patients. The devices' technology is based on the results of research by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.

Many people suffer from chronic wounds. Conventional treatment methods for these wounds, which often do not heal for years, include the use of steroids and antibiotics. Steroid treatment, however, is often associated with serious side-effects such as high blood pressure or osteoporosis, while antibiotics can lead to the development of resistant bacteria. A team of researchers led by Gregor E. Morfill, the former Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, has developed a new approach to treatment, however: originally, they were researching plasma in space as well as plasma crystals, the latter also being researched on the international space station (ISS), and recognised the potential of cold plasma for medical applications. They therefore developed various prototypes of plasma devices which allow bacteria, including multi-resistant ones, fungi and viruses to be killed. The devices generate electric fields which excite or ionise molecules in the surrounding air using discharges. Normally, this process is associated with high temperatures and very high or very low pressures. In this case, however, the plasma is at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, and is referred to as cold atmospheric plasma. This plasma is a highly diluted mixture of excited and charged atoms and molecules ("ions"), but also free radicals. If a plasma device is held over an open wound on the body, the plasma flows over the wound like a breath of air and kills bacteria in the wound area contactlessly and painlessly.

In order to develop a practical product, terraplasma medical was founded in 2016. In 2019, plasma care® received market approval. The handy and mobile medical device is used for the treatment of wounds, especially chronic wounds. Cold plasma treatment does not damage human tissue, reduces the use of antibiotics or steroids and does not cause allergic side effects or pain.

Ultimately, the healing of chronic wounds such as diabetic foot or venous ulcers significantly improves patients' quality of life.

Jens Kirsch
Managing Director of terraplasma medical

The devices can not only complement conventional treatment methods, but in some cases even replace them, for example in surgery to prevent infections after an operation.

In order to be able to help as many patients as possible and to promote the widespread use of plasma care® technology in clinics and care facilities, as well as by doctors and mobile care services in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the product will in future be distributed exclusively by Viromed GmbH. Viromed has been producing disinfection equipment for professional use in hospitals and surgeries for over 15 years and has numerous business connections in the healthcare sector, including several thousand acute clinics, general and rehabilitation hospitals and retirement homes.

plasma care® has the potential to significantly reduce care and dressing costs for chronic wounds or wounds contaminated with multi-resistant pathogens, to reduce the length of stay of patients after operations and to prevent antibiotic resistance.

Gregor Morfill
former director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics who now advises terraplasma medical

terraplasma medical GmbH was founded by the companies terraplasma GmbH and Dynamify GmbH. terraplasma GmbH is a spin-off of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Max Planck Innovation, the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck organisation, has accompanied this project since the beginning in the context of consulting, securing intellectual property, licensing and as a shareholder.

About the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

The name suggests a very broad field: The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. And indeed, the researchers in Garching do study all sorts of objects outside the Earth – but they do set priorities. They investigate our Milky Way, and discovered a few years ago that its centre harbours a gigantic black hole. They study the physics and dynamics of the interstellar matter and the development of galaxies; they observe gamma bursts in the distant Universe and refine the theory of complex plasmas. What’s special: the scientists use the full range of the electromagnetic spectrum, working both with telescopes for visible and infrared light and with satellites that observe the Universe in X-rays or gamma-rays. The Institute develops sophisticated instruments and cameras for these observatories to provide new insights into the “extraterrestrial world”.


About Max Planck Innovation

As the technology transfer organization of the Max Planck Society, Max Planck Innovation is the link between industry and basic research. With our interdisciplinary team, we advise and support scientists at the Max Planck Institutes in evaluating inventions, filing patents and starting businesses. We offer industry central access to the innovations of the Max Planck Institutes. We are therefore fulfilling an important task: The transfer of results from basic research into commercially and socially useful products.

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