Scientists' textile kills superbug
Published 19/03/2011 | 05:00
TEXTILES that kill the hospital superbug MRSA have been developed by scientists in Limerick.
A research team created nanomaterials for textiles used in hospital drapes, bed linens and upholstery to fight against killer infections.
The microscopic nanomaterials, which are a thousand times smaller than a human hair, are known to possess extraordinary properties.
Scientists said that, when embedded on hospital materials through a patent-pending process which ensures the nanoparticles stick tightly to the textile, they stop the infections spreading.
The European research team behind the discovery was co-ordinated by a leading research institute at the University of Limerick.
Dr Syed Tofail, of the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI), said the social and commercial potential for the technology was very high.
"Our technology will be used to produce practical, economical and effective products for this huge potential market," he added.
The MRSA bug is one of the major causes of hospital-acquired infections.
Every year, around three million people in the EU catch a healthcare-associated infection, resulting in around 50,000 deaths.
One in 10 patients entering a European hospital can expect to catch an infection caused by drug-resistant microbes.
In Ireland the MRSA level from blood tests in hospital patients was 27.1pc at the end of 2009, compared to 33.7pc at the end of 2008.
The BioElectricSurface team, who have been working on developing this technology since 2008, secured €5m from the European Commission.
The team included researchers from NUI Galway, Cook Medical and scientists and engineers from Poland, Germany, Denmark, Slovakia, Romania and Israel.