Irish scientific breakthrough may save countless lives from superbug infection

A breakthrough in scientific research taking place in the West of Ireland could prevent countless deaths from superbugs such as MRSA.

Superbugs are generally resistant to antibiotics, which make them so potentially lethal. It has been estimated that up to 10 million people could die every year from such conditions, making it a bigger threat to world health than cancer.

Professor Suresh C Pillai has led a study in Sligo IT and is the culmination of over a decade of research. The study, which is snappily titled ‘Highly Efficient F, Cu doped TiO2 anti-bacterial visible light active photocatalytic coatings to combat hospital-acquired infections‘ was published through, one of the leading online science archives. It cites how bacterial infections are a major threat to people in healthcare facilities, including hospitals, and that infection is easily spread.

The Sligo IT website stated:

Using nanotechnology, the discovery is an effective and practical antimicrobial solution — an agent that kills microorganisms or inhibits their growth — that can be used to protect a range of everyday items.

Items include anything made from glass, metallics and ceramics including computer or tablet screens, smartphones, ATMs, door handles, TVs, handrails, lifts, urinals, toilet seats, fridges, microwaves and ceramic floor or wall tiles.

Other common uses would include in swimming pools and public buildings, on glass in public buses and trains, sneeze guards protecting food in delis and restaurants as well as in clean rooms in the medical sector.

Professor Suresh Pillai of Sligo IT
Professor Suresh Pillai of Sligo IT

Prof. Pillai went on to say that “It’s absolutely wonderful to finally be at this stage. This breakthrough will change the whole fight against superbugs. It can effectvely control the spread of bacteria, “ before adding;

“Every single person has a sea of bacteria on their hands. The mobile phone is the most contaminated personal item that we can have. Bacteria grows on the phone and can live there for up to five months. As it is contaminated with proteins from saliva and from the hand, it’s fertile land for bacteria and has been shown to carry 30 times more bacteria than a toilet seat.”

Up until now, there has been nothing which can kill the bacteria which reside on our screens, but the new water solution can be “sprayed onto any glass, ceramic or metallic surface during the production process, rendering the surface 99.9 per cent resistant to superbugs like MRSA, E. coli and other fungi.”

The solution is sprayed on the product — such as a smartphone glass surface — and then ‘baked’ into it, forming a super-hard surface. The coating is transparent, permanent and scratch resistant and actually forms a harder surface than the original glass or ceramic material.

It’s not only a fascinating and significant breakthrough, but also a shocking wake-up call for us all with regard to how easily bacteria can be spread. Considering we carry our devices almost everywhere these days, it might be time to give our phones a quick antibacterial wipe, don’t you think?

Colin J McCracken

Colin J McCracken is a content designer, editor and writer from Ireland. Giving form and function to the My Good Planet vision, it has been his role to design and develop the online platform, content and presence of the project.

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