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Low-Temperature Plasmas for Medicine?

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1 Author(s)
Laroussi, M. ; Laser & Plasma Eng. Inst., Old Dominion Univ., Norfolk, VA

Can low-temperature plasma technology play a role in medicine? This is a question that many investigators today are trying hard to give a positive answer to. It did not quite start out this way. Almost two decades ago, few ldquocuriousrdquo electrical engineers and physicists with the help of few ldquobraverdquo biologists/microbiologists asked themselves more basic questions: What happens to biological cells if they were exposed to low-temperature plasma? Will they die? Will they survive? If they survive, will they come out the same or somehow ldquoinjuredrdquo? If injured, will they be able to repair the damage and recover? What kind of damage? Which plasma agent causes the damage? etc. As will be shown in this paper, some of these fundamental questions have been partially or fully answered, but until today, a complete picture has yet to emerge. This is good and not so good. It is good because if we already knew all the answers, we would not be looking forward to a more exciting research. It is not so good because after all these years, we are still quite a ways from an implementable medical application. In this review paper, the present state of knowledge regarding the effects of cold plasma on bacteria cells (prokaryotes) and on eukaryotic cells (such as mammalian cells) will be presented. As medical applications where low-temperature plasma is showing signs of success, blood coagulation and wound healing will be described.

Published in:

Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:37 ,  Issue: 6 )