The self-cleaning material has been proven to repel even the deadliest forms of antibiotic resistant (ABR) superbugs and viruses. This ultimate non-stick coating is a chemically treated form of transparent plastic wrap which can be adhered to surfaces prone to gathering germs, such as door handles, railings, and intravenous therapy (IV) stands.
“We developed the wrap to address the major threat that is posed by multi-drug resistant bacteria,” Leyla Soleymani, PhD, Associate Professor at McMaster University and one of the leaders of the study, told CNN. “Given the limited treatment options for these bugs, it is key to reduce their spread from one person to another.”
According to research published in the peer-reviewed Southern Medical Journal, “KPC-producing bacteria are a group of emerging highly drug-resistant Gram-negative bacilli causing infections associated with significant morbidity and mortality.”
Were those surfaces covered in this new bacterial-resistant
coating, life-threatening infections in hospital ICUs could be prevented.
Taking Inspiration from Nature
In designing their new anti-microbial wrap, McMaster researchers took their inspiration from natural lotus leaves, which are effectively water-resistant and self-cleaning thanks to microscopic wrinkles that repel external molecules. Substances that come in contact with surfaces covered in the new non-stick coating—such as a water, blood, or germs—simply bounce off. They do not adhere to the material.
The “shrink-wrap” is flexible, durable, and inexpensive to
manufacture. And, the researchers hope to locate a commercial partner to
develop useful applications for their discovery.
“We’re structurally tuning that plastic,” Soleymani told SciTechDaily. “This material gives us something that can be applied to all kinds of things.”
Industries Outside of Healthcare Also Would Benefit
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 2.8 million people get an antibiotic-resistant infection in the US each year. More than 35,000 people die from these infections, making it one of the biggest health challenges of our time and a threat that needs to be eradicated. This innovative plastic coating could help alleviate these types of infections.
And it’s not just for healthcare. The researchers said the coating could be beneficial to the food industry as well. The plastic surface could help curtail the accidental transfer of bacteria, such as E. coli, Salmonella, and Listeria in food preparation and packaging, according to the published study.
“We can see this technology being used in all kinds of institutional and domestic settings,” Tohid Didar, PhD, Assistant Professor at McMaster University and co-author of the study, told SciTechDaily. “As the world confronts the crisis of anti-microbial resistance, we hope it will become an important part of the anti-bacterial toolbox.”
Clinical laboratories also are tasked with preventing the
transference of dangerous bacteria to patients and lab personnel. Constant
diligence in application of cleaning protocols is key. If this new anti-bacterial
shrink wrap becomes widely available, medical laboratory managers and
microbiologists will have a new tool to fight bacterial contamination.
The UE study sheds light on the types of bacteria in
wastewater that goes down hospital pipes to sewage treatment plants. The study
also revealed that not all infectious agents are killed after passing through
waste treatment plants. Some bacteria with antimicrobial (or antibiotic)
resistance survive to enter local food sources.
The scientists concluded that the amount of AMR genes found
in hospital wastewater was linked to patients’ length-of-stays and consumption
of antimicrobial resistant bacteria while in the hospital.
In a paper the University of Edinburgh published on medRxiv, the researchers wrote: “There was a higher abundance of antimicrobial-resistance genes in the hospital wastewater samples when compared to Seafield community sewage works … Sewage treatment does not completely eradicate antimicrobial-resistance genes and thus antimicrobial-resistance genes can enter the food chain through water and the use of [processed] sewage sludge in agriculture. As hospital wastewater contains inpatient bodily waste, we hypothesized that it could be used as a representation of inpatient community carriage of antimicrobial resistance and as such may be a useful surveillance tool.”
Additionally, they wrote, “Using metagenomics to identify
the full range of AMR genes in hospital wastewater could represent a useful
surveillance tool to monitor hospital AMR gene outflow and guide environmental
policy on AMR.”
Antibiotic resistance occurs when bacteria change in response to medications to prevent and treat bacterial infections, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) fact sheet. The CDC estimates that more than 23,000 people die annually from two million antibiotic-resistance infections.
Wastewater, the UE scientists suggest, should not go to
waste. It could be leveraged to improve hospitals’ detection of patients with antimicrobial
resistance, as well as to boost environment antimicrobial-resistance polices.
They used metagenomics (the study of genetic material
relative to environmental samples) to compare the antimicrobial-resistance
genes in hospital wastewater against wastewater from community sewage
The UE researchers:
First collected samples over a 24-hour period from various areas in a tertiary hospital;
They then obtained community sewage samples from various locations around Seafield, Scotland;
Antimicrobial-resistance genes increased with longer length of patient stays, which “likely reflects transmission amongst hospital inpatients,” researchers noted.
Fey suggests that further research into using sequencing
technology to monitor patients is warranted.
“I think that monitoring each patient and sequencing their
bowel flora is more likely where we’ll be able to see if there’s a significant
carriage of antibiotic-resistant organisms,” Fey told MedPage Today. “In
five years or so, sequencing could become so cheap that we could monitor every
patient like that.”
Fey was not involved in the University of Edinburgh
Given the rate at which AMR bacteria spreads, finding antibiotic-resistance
genes in hospital wastewater may not be all that surprising. Still, the University
of Edinburgh study could lead to cost-effective ways to test the genes of
bacteria, which then could enable researchers to explore different sources of
infection and determine how bacteria move through the environment.
And, perhaps most important, the study suggests clinical
laboratories have many opportunities to help eliminate infections and slow
antibiotic resistance. Microbiologists can help move their organizations forward
too, along with infection control colleagues.
Use of these new technologies creates opportunities for clinical laboratories and pathologists to add more value when collaborating with physicians to advance patient care
Ongoing improvements in point-of-care testing are encouraging one major academic medical center to apply this mode of testing to the diagnosis of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). This development should be of interest to clinical laboratory professionals and pathologists, since it has the potential to create a different way to identify patients with HAIs than medical lab tests done in the central laboratory.
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School’s (HMS’) largest teaching hospital, has developed a prototype diagnostic system that works with doctors’ smartphones or mobile computers. The hand-held system can identify pathogens responsible for specific healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) at the point of care within two hours, according to an MGH statement.
Therefore, pathologists and medical laboratory scientists will understand that shifting some of that specimen volume to point-of-care testing will change the overall economics of hospital laboratories.
Optical test cubes are placed on an electronic base station that transmits data to a smartphone or computer, where results are displayed. “In a pilot clinical test, PAD accuracy was comparable to that of bacterial culture. In contrast to the culture, the PAD assay was fast (under two hours), multiplexed, and cost effective (under $2 per assay), wrote the MGH researchers in the journal Science Advances. (more…)
If validated by additional research, microbiologists, pathologists, and medical laboratory professionals might soon find analysis of the human microbiome to be a useful marker in screening for colon cancer
Microbiologists may play a greater role in the early detection of colorectal cancer, if the findings of a research study at the University of Michigan (UMich) are confirmed with additional clinical studies.
Combining gut microbiome analysis with traditional risk factors for colorectal cancer—such as body mass index (BMI), age, and race—significantly improved the ability of pathologists to distinguish healthy people from those with precancerous or cancerous lesions, wrote researchers from the UMich in a scholarly paper published in the November 2014 issue in Cancer Prevention Research.
Research findings indicate that gut microbiomes may be a major factor in development of colorectal cancer. However, more research is required to determine if this microbial community has the potential to be clinically useful as screening tool for early-stage disease. (more…)
Developed to detect pathogens missed in wounds of soldiers, this technology was licensed to a company for development into a test for use by clinical laboratories
Diagnostic technology developed for rapid detection of pathogens in the wounds of soldiers has been licensed to a private company that intends to use it to create new medical laboratory tests. This new technology is capable of identifying thousands of bacteria and viruses in a single test.