Medical textiles developed to kill MRSA superbug

A European research team has developed textiles which will kill the MRSA (Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) superbug.

The BioElectricSurface research team, led from the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) at the University of Limerick, has used nanomaterials on textiles used in hospital drapes, bed linens and upholstery.

The MRSA bug is one of the major causes of hospital-acquired infections. In June 2007, the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDC) identified anti-biotic resistant micro-organisms as the most important infectious disease threat in Europe. One in ten patients entering a European hospital can expect to catch an infection caused by drug-resistant microbes and each year, around three million people in the EU catch a healthcare-associated infection, resulting in approximately 50,000 deaths.

Within the BioElectricSurface project, scientists from Ireland’s University of Limerick, Poland’s Wroclaw University of Technology and Wroclaw Medical University, as well as Slovakia-based Comenius University, have been working on the development of this technology since 2008. They embedded both commercial and custom-made nanoparticles into textiles through a patent-pending process that is effective against MRSA and other superbugs.

The process ensures the nanoparticles adhere tightly to the textile, which is important for commercialisation as it minimises ‘free’ or ‘loose’ nanoparticles.

Dr Syed Tofail of the Materials and Surface Science Institute, who co-ordinated the research, said the social impact and commercial potential for this kind of technology are very high. The US and European market size for medical textiles is estimated to be over $7 billion and current sales only meet one third of the market potential. “Our technology will be used to produce practical, economical and effective products for this huge potential market,” he said.

“Most textiles used in non-surgical environments are conventional, which partly gives rise to the spread of infectious diseases even among patients who go to hospital for non-surgical care,” said Dr Ewa Dworniczek, a microbiologist from the Wroclaw Medical University, Poland and a member of the BioElectricSurface team. These garments can pose a public health risk due to the inability of current hospital laundries to annihilate bacteria that have grown antibiotic resistant in the hospital environment.

The BioElectricSurface consortium has received funding of €5million by the European Commission for this transnational research effort.

Source: Inteletex

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