A nanotechnology coating could control the spread of potentially deadly antibiotic-resistant superbugs that are very difficult to kill, a new study found.
This new breakthrough will allow ordinary items like smartphones, door handles and telephones to be protected against antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which are expected to kill about 10 million people around the world by 2050. A team of researchers from Institute of Technology Sligo found a way that could stem the spread of deadly and hard-to-treat superbugs.
"It's absolutely wonderful to finally be at this stage. This breakthrough will change the whole fight against superbugs. It can effectively control the spread of bacteria," said Professor Suresh Pillai from IT Sligo.
The nanotechnology has a 99.9 percent kill rate of potentially fatal bacteria, the researchers found. It contains a potent antimicrobial solution that is robust enough to kill pathogens and even inhibit their growth.
A wide range of items could be used as long as they're made from metal, ceramic or glass including screens of tablets, smartphones and computers. It could also be used on door handles, television sets, urinals, refrigerators, ATM's and ceramic tiles or floors.
It will be very useful in hospitals and other medical facilities that face the problem of superbug infections or what is commonly called nosocomial infections. Other common public areas that can use this nanotechnology are public swimming pools, buildings and transportation.
One of the most dominant nosocomial bacteria, those that develop and spread in hospitals, is Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). This group of bacteria could survive on hospital surfaces for up to five months.
Current methods are not efficient enough in eradicating Staphylococcus aureus. Existing hygiene coatings used today have two drawbacks - it relies on ultraviolet lights to generate electrons and reactive species and a purely photocatalytic hygiene coating is inactive when in the dark.
The nanotechnology, however, will effectively and completely kill superbugs from the surface of items. This is a water-based solution that can be sprayed on while manufacturing glass, metal or ceramic materials.
The transparent coating will be baked into the material, forming a hard surface that is resistant to superbugs including MRSA, some fungi and Escherichia coli. The team is now studying on how the material could be incorporated into paint and plastics to explore a wider use of the discovery.
The study was published in the journal Nature.
Photo: National Institute of Health - NIAID | Flickr