Birmingham University develops new antimicrobial coating

Published: 30-Aug-2019

The new patented coating is being commercialised by a new company, NitroPep

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have created an antimicrobial coating for steel surfaces which has proven to rapidly kill bacteria that cause some of the most common hospital-acquired infections.

The new product has been patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise and will be commercialised by NitroPep, a new UK company under the same brand name. NitroPep has been heralded as a new tool in the fight against the spread of infection.

Working with the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine and the Royal Navy, the researchers conducted a trial which saw NitroPep coated on steel surfaces – including door handles, an operating theatre and part of a communal toilet – onboard a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship.

Both the surfaces coated in NitroPep, and ‘control’ surfaces that were not treated with the coating, were subject to standard daily cleaning regimes while the ship was at sea for an 11 month period.

The surfaces were swabbed on a weekly basis and the results were then analysed in a Birmingham University lab.

Mechanistically, the treated surface interacts directly with the cell wall of the bacteria causing lysis. Bacteria is destroyed and prevented from colonisation and multiplication.

The treated surface interacts directly with the cell wall of the bacteria causing lysis

The results showed that the coating was effective against five different bacteria that are responsible for hospital-acquired infections – Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli.

The research also showed that the coating killed bacteria within 45 minutes – far more rapidly than currently commercially available technologies which do not have a significant effect on bacteria until up to 24 hours.

Published in Materials Science and Engineering C: Materials for Biological Applications, the research was carried out by scientists at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection and School of Chemistry; the Royal Centre for Defence Medicine; the University of Nottingham; and Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham which is part of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust.

Dr Felicity de Cogan, Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow at the University of Birmingham and Chief Scientific Officer at NitroPep, said: “Despite increased sterilisation and education campaigns, hospital-acquired infections have not been eradicated and the accumulation of bacteria on frequently touched surfaces is key in the transmission of infection.

Graeme Forster, Managing Director of NitroPep, said: “NitroPep is a novel, cost-effective, and cutting-edge technology for bonding antimicrobial actives onto various surfaces which we believe is the future solution to a global problem.”

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