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Magnetic fields turn up the heat on bacterial biofilms

August 8, 2017 – A short exposure to an alternating magnetic field might someday replace multiple surgeries and weeks of IV antibiotics as treatment for stubborn infections on artificial joints, new research suggests.

Dr. David Greenberg, left, and Dr. Rajiv Chopra have shown that a coil magnet wrapped around a prosthetic knee can destroy bacterial biofilm on the artificial knee.

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have shown that high-frequency alternating magnetic fields – the same principle used in induction cooktops – can be used to destroy bacteria that are encased in a slimy “biofilm” growing on a metal surface. The biofilm is a collection of microorganisms that stick to each other as well as to various surfaces. This aggregate of organisms and other substances that surround them makes it difficult for both drugs and immune cells to reach the bacteria.

Technology developed by Dr. Rajiv Chopra and Dr. David Greenberg uses this method to heat the surface of prosthetic metal joints and destroy bacterial biofilms. Their work appears in Scientific Reports.