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A new foot ulcer formulation developed by scientists at the University of South Australia could be used to kill the COVID-19 virus, according to new research. 

In a study published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, the team looked at the treatment of antimicrobial-resistant bacterial infections, experimenting to find an effective non-antibiotic antimicrobial strategy to combat the infections in diabetic foot ulcers. 

The authors found that enhancing cold plasma ionized gas with peracetic acid was “highly effective” at eradicating common wound pathogenic bacteria and at inactivating SARS-Cov-2.

“This paper presents a strategy utilizing cold plasma for the “on-demand” activation of acetyl donor molecules. The process generates an aqueous-based antimicrobial formulation comprising a rich mixture of highly oxidizing molecules: peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, buspirone work ” the group explained. “The synergistic potent oxidative action between these molecules is shown to be highly effective at eradicating common wound pathogenic bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus) and at inactivating a virus (SARS-CoV-2).”

Combining cold plasma with the acetyl donor molecules, generating hydrogen peroxide and releasing peracetic acid, resistant bacteria is killed.

For Pseudomonas aeruginosa, which can cause infections in the blood and lungs after surgery, the technology using the plasma without the acetyl donor molecules was completely effective. 

Staphylococcus aureus, also known as “golden staph,” necessitated the combined treatment. 

“We urgently need an antibiotic-free solution to address the global escalation in antimicrobial resistance and we believe we have made an important first step with this new strategy,” he said, adding that the formulation could be used in a cream, gel, aerosol or wound dressing.

The University of South Australia said the latter option is currently in a trial at Royal Adelaide Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“If an infection doesn’t get better with treatment, your toe, foot, or part of your leg may need to be amputated (removed by surgery) to prevent the infection from spreading and to save your life,” the agency warned.

The International Diabetes Federation reports that 1 in 10 adults aged 20-79 is living with diabetes and that diabetes was responsible for one death every five seconds in 2021. 

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