US scientists have developed “super-oxidised” water which they say speeds up wound healing.
Oculus, the Californian firm which developed the water – made by filtering it through a salt membrane – says it kills viruses, bacteria and fungi.
It is also effective against MRSA and UK trials are being carried out on patients with diabetic foot ulcers, New Scientist magazine reported.
Experts said wound healing was a major problem for people with diabetes.
The key ingredient of the water, called Microcyn, are oxychlorine ions – electrically charged molecules which pierce the cell walls of free-living microbes.
The water can only kill cells it can completely surround so human cells are spared because they are tightly bound together in a matrix.
It is made by taking purified water and passing it through a semi-permeable sodium chloride membrane, which produces the oxychlorine ions.
One study showed that patients with advanced foot ulcers who were treated with the water, alongside an antibiotic had an average healing time of 43 days compared with 55 days in those who received standard treatment.
The results were presented at a Global Healthcare biomedical conference in Monte Carlo.
Bleach also contains a number of electrically charged molecules such as hypochlorite but in much higher concentrations than in the water.
However, US studies have shown the water kills 10 strains of bleach-resistant bacteria.
Professor Andrew Boulton, from Manchester Royal Infirmary, who is conducting one of the early UK trials, said the treatment seemed promising.
“Hopefully it will confirm our initial good experience.”
About 15% of diabetic foot ulcers result in amputation.
Diabetes UK care adviser Tracey Kelly said: “The healing of wounds is a major problem for people with diabetes who do not have good blood glucose control or have circulatory problems.
“We would welcome any safe effective treatment which could help people with diabetes make a swift recovery.
“This research is very interesting and we look forward to the trial results.”
Help the Aged spokesman Mike Foster said: “The team involved is a credible one and wound healing is a major area in the health of older people.
“There is an urgent need to understand the biology of our repair systems so that we can improve treatments that will help to restore more people’s health and independence.” BBC