Eliminating Infectious Bacteria

Photo: Machine

The technique is used to create completely sterile antimicrobial textiles that help prevent hospital-acquired infections. The research was carried out within the framework of the European SONO project and involves a consortium of 17 companies and research centres.

Nosocomial infections — defined as infections not present and without evidence of incubation at the time of admission — remain a significant problem for hospitals.

In an effort to tackle the problem, the European Union is funding the SONO project, which involves the participation of 17 partners. The goal is to improve the antimicrobial properties of medical textiles by using ultrasonic irradiation to deposit zinc oxide nanoparticles and biopolymers on these materials.

The team of researchers used enzymes that improve adhesion of the antimicrobial nanoparticles to the fabric under ultrasonic irradiation. By applying these enzymes, the researchers increased the durability of the nanoparticles on the fabric to such a degree that they remain present even after 70 laundry cycles.

The research paves the way for the production of textiles with antimicrobial properties that are fully effective. The effectiveness of the antimicrobial treatment has also been boosted by incorporating in the fabric hybrid materials that combine organic and inorganic components (zinc and chitosan nanoparticles). In addition to eliminating any bacteria present, these materials prevent the growth of new microbes.

Factors leading to an increase in the rate of nosocomial infections include a rise in the number of immunocompromised patients, the appearance of resistant microorganisms, the increasing complexity of medical interventions, and the performance of invasive procedures.

Hospital-acquired infections are one of the leading causes of mortality and increased morbidity in inpatients and place a heavy burden on the health system. Between 3 and 10 percent of inpatients acquire an infection during their hospital stay. The mortality rate for nosocomial infections is 1 percent, and they contribute to 3 percent of mortality from other diseases.

COMPAMED.de; Source: Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)