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The research of atmospheric plasma’s use for medical treatments has gathered apace over recent years.  Plasma comprises charged particles as well as a range of other active components that are thought to interact with the body to produce desired affects in plasma medicine such as; electric current, UV radiation and reactive gas species these components are thought to be able to act synergistically.

In in vivo and in vitro experiments, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-itch, blood flow-enhancing, tissue-stimulating and proapoptotic effects were seen with no pathogen resistance against plasma treatment. 

What is Plasma Medicine?

Plasma medicine is a relatively new field of research that has only emerged in recent years as an area of research across both physics and life sciences. Physical plasma is created by the addition of energy (using heat or electromagnetic fields) to a neutral gas. This produces a charged cloud of ions, radicals, and neutral species. 

When the gas species are ionized, the species becomes increasingly electrically conductive, the process is complete.

Plasmas emit electromagnetic radiation, usually in the form of UV radiation and visible light. They also contain excited gas molecules as well as positively and negatively charged ions, free radicals, neutral reactive oxygen/nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) and molecule fragments. As plasma possesses distinct characteristics compared to standard neutral gases, it is considered as a fourth state of matter and high temperature plasmas are used in medicine for sterilization of medical devices and implants.

Extreme close up of HiFu treatment on face

The Use of Cold Atmospheric Pressure Plasmas

Cold atmospheric pressure plasmas can be used in the treatment of viable tissues and this has led to them becoming a focus of medical research in recent years. Aside from therapeutic applications, cold atmospheric pressure plasmas are employed for biological decontamination and surface modification.

A range of cold atmospheric pressure plasma devices have been created and tested for research purposes. Generally speaking, these are divided into direct and indirect discharge devices. Currently, three plasma devices have been certified for medical purposes.

Cold Atmospheric Plasmas for Dermatology

Cold atmospheric plasmas are used predominantly in the dermatology sector, particularly focusing on wound healing and the treatment of pathogenic skin diseases. Applying cold atmospheric plasma can decrease the bacterial load on wound sites and stimulate tissue regeneration concurrently. This increases the speed of the healing process.

How Can Hiden Analytical Contribute to Plasma Medicine Research?

The HPR-60 molecular beam mass spectrometer from Hiden analytical has been created specifically for the study and characterization of atmospheric plasmas. Pressure can be reduced to ultra-high vacuum by using the three-stage skimmer cone configuration for mass and energy analysis and the development of a supersonic silent region behind the initial skimmer cone which stops any further collisions and interactions of the species that are sampled by the MS system.

The quantity and configuration of ROS and RNS that are generated by plasma is dependent on a specific plasma source and device parameters. It also depends on working gas composition, distance from the plasma source and power input. The HPR-60 facilitates characterization of the effects on plasma properties of these parameters both efficiently and directly.

The HPR-60 system can employ both the EQP or EPIC ranges of Hiden mass spectrometers. These support mass options reaching 5000 amu and meaning the system is well-suited to the analysis of hydrated cluster species that form in atmospheric plasma processes.

If you would like to learn more about how Hiden Analytical can help with plasma medicine generation, contact us today.