Phila. scientists experiment with high-tech healing

May 16, 2010 5:29:18 AM PDT
Some scientists in Philadelphia are venturing into a new medical frontier.

They are trying to pull the concept of "healing wands" out of science fiction and into reality.

To do it, they use plasma energy, which is found in the sun, lightning, and cell phones. In fact, it's already used to sterilize medical instruments.

The energy, created when gas is super-heated, is good at killing microbes. However, it's been too risky to use directly on humans because of extreme temperatures.

But at Drexel University's Plasma Institute, they believe they can find a way to keep plasma cool enough for human use.

In addition to zapping germs, plasma energy can also promote healing.

"We are able, today, to stimulate a formation of capillaries and blood vessels," said Dr. Alexander Fridman of the Drexel Plasma Institute.

The Drexel team believes plasma will make it possible to induce the chemical effect of a drug without taking one. It could be used when chemicals would be too much for the human body.

"Plasma is able to produce a similar chemical effect, but without external, and damaging chemicals," said Dr. Fridman.

Dr. Fridman says, in a few years, plasma energy will revolutionize medical care.

"I think plasma medicine finds itself today in the same position that lasers were when they first entered hospitals," he said.

The Drexel team thinks the first use for plasma will be a high-tech hand-cleaning device for healthcare workers - one that can get rid of germs better than soap and water.