A team of researchers from Tel Aviv University and Harvard Medical School has devised a noninvasive technique that harnesses pulsed electric fields to stimulate new skin tissue, according to Israel21c, a website that specializes reporting about Israeli technological innovations.
The technique utilizes “microsecond-pulsed, high-voltage, non-thermal electric fields,” and reportedly produces rejuvenated skin without scars.
“Pulsed electrical field technology has many advantages, which have already proved effective — for example, in food preservation, tumor removal and wound disinfection,” bioengineering expert Alexander Golberg, who led the study on behalf of TAU’s Porter School of Environmental Studies, told Israel21c.
“Our new application may jumpstart the secretion of new collagen and capillaries in problematic skin areas,” Golberg explained. “Considering that, in the modern era of aging populations and climate change, degenerative skin diseases affect one in three adults over the age of 60, this has the potential to be a healthcare game-changer.”
While Botox smooths wrinkles when injected, it does not provide a permanent solution to sagging skin, and carries many risks, some neurological. Other therapies to rejuvenate skin can cause scarring and other negative side effects. Pulsed electric fields, the scientists have shown, transform only the cell membrane while sparking new cell and tissue growth.
The researchers induced nanoscale defects on the cell membranes of lab rats, and found that electric fields caused a small number of cells in affected areas to die, while increasing the metabolism of the remaining cells, generating new tissue.
“We have identified in rats the specific pulsed electric field parameters that lead to prominent proliferation of the epidermis, formation of microvasculature, and secretion of new collagen at treated areas without scarring,” said Golberg.
The study, published recently in Scientific Reports, was carried out in collaboration with colleagues from the Center for Engineering in Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Shriners Burns Hospital in Boston.
The research team is currently attempting to develop a low-cost device for use in clinical trials in order to test the safety and efficacy of the pulse technology on humans.