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Plasma Medicine

Plasma medicine is a new, innovative research field at the interface between physics and the life sciences, which in the last few years has experienced an immense international upswing. So-called cold atmospheric pressure plasmas are generated with the aid of special plasma devices in order to directly achieve medical effects on or in patients. The current main implementation area is treatment of chronic, infected wounds and pathogen-induced skin diseases.

With the aid of plasmas many types of microorganisms, including multi-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA can be deactivated. Moreover, scientific studies substantiate that plasma also supports natural wound healing through stimulation of new tissue formation. The latest research results indicate a possible deactivation of tumor cells. This offers hope of new perspectives for cancer treatment. The underlying cellular and molecular-biological mechanisms of interactions between plasma and living cells or tissue, and the influencing of these mechanisms through modification of plasma parameters are being investigated at the INP by interdisciplinary teams. The central objective of these tasks is ever-better characterization and control of the physical properties of cold atmospheric pressure plasmas in interaction with living systems, in order to design and optimize plasma devices for medical applications, and thus open up new development areas.

The first cold plasma devices have already received regulatory market approval. Among other things, the atmospheric pressure plasma jet, kINPen® MED (which was CE-certified in 2013 as a Class IIa medical product), developed at the INP, is being used successfully for dermatology treatments.

Application fields

In addition, to disinfection of body surfaces and living tissue, in particular the influencing of wound healing, blood coagulation and tissue regeneration are among the medical application areas for cold atmospheric pressure plasmas. In particular, implementation areas for these types of plasma devices are dermatology, plastic and cosmetic surgery, general and accident surgery as well as dentistry. 

In conjunction with basic research on mechanisms of biological plasma effects, among other things it has been shown that biological plasma effects in particular can be mediated via changes in the liquid cell environment. In this regard it also became clear that plasma treatment of liquids results in the fact that these liquids themselves can temporarily become biologically active. Research studies involving these so-called "plasma-treated liquids" focuses on their use as disinfectants and antiseptic, as well as special application possibilities in the area of oncology. This work is currently in the stage of basic research. 

Project topics

The Center for Innovation Competence (Zentrum für Innovationskompetenz (ZIK)) "plasmatis – plasma plus cell, which started in 2009" represents a unique combination of the expertise of biochemists, pharmacists, biologists and physicists, within the new research area of plasma medicine. In past years ZIK plasmatis has become an international leader in this area focusing on research of plasma application for the healing of wounds.

In the meantime, the two original junior research groups, "Extracellular Effects" and "Cellular Effects" have been perpetuated as the research groups "Plasma Sources Concepts" and "Plasma Wound Healing" at the INP. Within the ZIK plasmatis framework two new junior groups "Plasma Fluid Effects" and "Plasma Redox Effects" are researching the mechanisms of plasma-liquid interactions, as well as the influence of cellular redox processes, using cold plasmas with special consideration of the plasma-based inactivation of tumor cells. Thanks to the Support of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF), state-of-the-art methods and equipment that is worldwide unique are available to ZIK plastmatis to further intensify interdisciplinary basic research in the area of plasma medicine at the Greifswald site, and to transfer findings to new clinical topic areas.

Project manager:
Dr. Sander Bekeschus
Phone: +49 3834 - 554 3948

The Applied Plasma Medicine Center aims to strengthen the international collaboration between the German Leibniz Institute for Plasma Science and Technology (INP) and the Korean Plasma Bioscience Research Center (PBRC) - Kwangwoon University, Seoul in the field of Plasma Medicine. The focus will be on wound healing and skin treatment based on cold plasma technology.

During this collaboration, common standards for plasma sources and plasma treatment based on the German DINspec will be developed to establish routine analysis procedures and long-term evaluations as well as international standardization and harmonization of the plasma treatment of humans and biological matter. Thus, the comparison of plasma sources and plasma treatment will be promoted in order to ensure a safe, effective and reproducible treatment of human skin of diverse skin types by cold atmospheric pressure plasma.

The first major step is to certify the kINPen Med, an Argon plasma jet developed by the INP and certified in Europe for the treatment of human skin (especially chronic infected wounds), in South Korea. Future clinical trials will focus on cosmetic approaches as well as on defined infected wounds according to the Korean regulatory affairs and will be based on the pre-clinical studies performed in Germany – and later in South Korea, too. In parallel, a Korean plasma dielectric barrier discharge plasma source will be developed under standardized and evaluated procedures (DINspec 91315 – “Basic requirements for plasma sources in medicine”) and according the knowledge gained during the kINPen Med certification. Finally, the Korean plasma source will enter clinical trials for a comparison study of different types of plasma sources.

Project manager:
Kai Masur
Tel.: +49(0) 3834 554 3322

In the  „PLASMA-re-SURG“ work group, INP, together with the Greifswald University Hospital, is involved with translational research topics concerning the therapeutic effect of cold atmospheric pressure plasmas, in particular on gastrointestinal tumors, and above all on pancreatic carcinoma and colon carcinoma. Molecular mechanisms of plasma-cell interaction are investigated to research the therapeutic potential of this new technology and to identify potential risks. The objective is clinical application of cold physical plasmas as a new, low-effect therapy option in the treatment of advanced gastrointestinal tumors.  

Project manager:
Prof. Dr. Thomas von Woedtke
Phone: + 49 3834 - 554 445

A network initiative for plasma medicine in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

In recent years the Mecklenburg-West Pomerania health industry has developed core competence in the area of plasma medicine. The network initiative "PLASMA Wundzirkel" (PLASMA Wound Circle), which won awards in the healthcare industry 2015 ideas competition, has the goal of developing a platform for a state wide user group of medical service providers (dermatologists, general practitioners, medical care centers, clinics, etc.), manufacturers of plasma devices, as well as patients (associations), for the use of plasma therapy to heal wounds. In this regard the network is designed function as an opinion-shaping body for the establishment of plasma therapy, particularly for the treatment of chronic wounds.

The "PLASMA Wundzirkel" initiative is supported by the Ministry for Economic Affairs, Construction and Tourism of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania for two years with funding of just under €200,000. The funding originates from the "European Funds for Regional Development" (EFRD).

Project manager:
Dr. Christine Zädow
Phone: +49 3834 - 554 3914



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