Debridement Iontophoresis Device

New device treats biofilm infections

  • Treat biofilm-infected wounds
  • Improved drug delivery, penetration through tissues
  • Reduce regrowth of drug-resistant biofilm bacteria
  • Available for licensing

Licensing Manager: Amanda Hawley, PhD or 402-310-5602


New device treats biofilm infections

UNMC researchers have developed a system that treats bacterial biofilms and enhances the delivery and penetration of drugs delivered through iontophoresis—a process that uses an electric current to drive the ions of a chemical or drug through the skin and into deeper tissues.
Biofilms—a slimy, layered community of microbes that can form on wounds, medical devices and implants—are notoriously difficult to treat. Biofilms are typically resistant to most antibiotics and quickly regrow if improperly treated. Infected devices, such as implants, often need to be replaced with highly invasive and risky surgical procedures. For infected wounds, successfully treating a biofilm could mean removing the infected tissue.
UNMC’s new device improves the current standard treatments of washing wounds, absorption of topical therapeutics through the skin, or surgically removing the biofilm from the surrounding tissue. These current remedies—with therapeutics that are unable to target all of the microbes in the biofilm community—could cause the biofilm bacteria to spread further into the wound, damage surrounding healthy tissue. Failing to fully remove or kill all of the biofilm microbes could result in the biofilm reforming.
When operated at high electrical currents, iontophoresis devices allows for faster transport and penetration of a chemical or drug into the skin. Unfortunately, the higher currents also cause burns, discoloration or rashes on patients’ skin. But treating a biofilm-infected wound with UNMC’s water-stable, hydrogel-based ionic circuit system could minimize the burns and discomfort associated with current iontophoresis devices while more rapidly and effectively delivering therapeutics to the afflicted tissues.
To learn more about this technology, contact Amanda Hawley, PhD, at or 402-310-5602.

Additional Info



Technical Summary

The hydrogel ionic circuit (HIC) anti-biofilm system uses a high-intensity current (75 mA cm-2) to debride biofilms from the surface of infected wounds while simultaneously enhancing therapeutic delivery and penetration to afflicted tissues. Following application, the bacterial count of the treated wound was reduced below the clinical threshold for wound infections (i.e. 105.0 CFU g-1), allowing for proper healing of the underlying wounds or lesions. Furthermore, the HIC anti-biofilm system exhibits enhanced in vivo safety compared to conventional devices by not presenting burns, rash or discoloration on ex vivo tissues and in mouse studies.