Cold plasma to heal wounds

(11-08-2022) In her PhD, Ivana Sremački is investigating how cold plasmas can be further optimized so that they can be used more commercially in hospitals.

Plasma is often called the fourth aggregate state, in addition to solid, liquid and gas. An atom or molecule in gas phase has an equal number of positively and negatively charged particles. If one removes or adds an electron, it changes into a charged particle, also called an ion. Therefore, plasma is also called partially ionized gas. Besides charged particles, this partially ionized gas consists of neutrals, reactive chemical particles and radiation, what makes plasmas chemically active. Due to their chemical activity, plasmas can be used for various purposes, from material modification and gas conversion to wound treatment. As ionization is not a spontaneous process because it requires energy, most plasmas are havinghigh temperatures.

"In the meantime, one has also discovered how cold, room-temperature plasma can be created," Ivana explains.

"Due to the low temperature of the plasma, it can be used for medical applications, among others. After all, cold plasma kills bacteria, stimulates cell growth and promotes blood flow. It is therefore often used in wound care, especially in chronic wounds where the normal healing process has been disrupted," she continues.

“During the literature research for my master’s thesis, I got interested in cold plasma technologies. Although I graduated in physics, I have always shared an interest in biomedical sciences and closely followed the therapeutic advances in the medical field. So, appropriately, the Ph.D. project I applied for seemed a perfect fit for my future research. I am happy that I got the opportunity to pioneer and contribute to the growing field of plasma medicine”

"In my research, I have focused on current problems that arise within plasma medicine," says Ivana.

"Different types of plasma sources are being developed for wound care. Some of these are medically certified but are not yet used commercially in hospitals. This is due to the strict regulations for plasma sources applied to humans. On the one hand, the plasma must be electromagnetically compatible with human skin. On the other hand, the plasma, which is generated at atmospheric pressure, must be cold and stable. Moreover, it must generate those chemical particles that are crucial to promote wound healing" explains Ivana.

" I investigated how to optimize the multiphase plasma-aerosol reactor for safe treatment of biomolecules, cells and tissuesDuring this research, we learned how to finely tune the generation of chemically active particles in plasma and use those to promote cell growth and locally deliver drugs. Our latest results demonstrate a promising future for the cold atmospheric plasmas to be used for chronic wound healing advanced by drug delivery,” she concludes.

Read a more detailed summary or the entire PhD


PhD Title: Atmospheric Pressure Plasma Coupled with Aerosol for Biomedical Applications


Contact: Ivana Sremački, Christophe Leys, Anton Nikiforov

Ivana Sremački

Ivana Sremački finished her bachelor's and master's studies in the Physics department, Faculty of Science in Novi Sad, Serbia. During her master's project, she investigated the Stark broadening of atomic lines in argon arc plasma for plasma diagnostics.

She continued her studies as a Ph.D. student at the University of Ghent (Research Unit Plasma Technology), where she investigated argon plasma jet coupled with aerosol for biomedical application under the mentorship of prof. Leys and dr. Nikiforov.

During her 4-year research, she visited a few leading academic institutions Institute for Plasma Physics INP Greifswald, Jozef Stefan Institute and ONKO Institute in Ljubljana, and Skeletal Biology and Engineering center in KU Leuven. During these stays, advanced research on plasma liquid-chemistry and biology has been conducted. She presented her research in 6 international conferences and is the  author of 6 A1 international journal articles, of which 4 she is the first author and 2 C1 articles. She was assisting bachelor's students in Physics I and master's students in Plasma physics.


Editor: Jeroen Ongenae - Illustrator: Roger Van Hecke