150 years ago, German physiologist Emil Du Bois-Reymond discovered that electric currents could speed up the healing of flesh wounds. But his research has been ignored ever since. Until now...
Now Josef Penninger of the Austrian Institute of Molecular Biotechnology in Vienna and Min Zhao of the University of Aberdeen, UK, have demonstrated that natural electric fields and currents in tissue play a vital role in orchestrating the wound-healing process by attracting repair cells to damaged areas.
The researchers grew layers of mouse cells and larger tissues, such as corneas, in the lab. After "wounding" these tissues, they applied varying electric fields to them, and found they could accelerate or completely halt the healing process depending on the orientation and strength of the field (Nature, vol 442, p 457).