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MRSA licked by pioneering paint

A unique coating that can be painted on to hospital walls and floors has been unveiled as the latest weapon in the fight against superbugs such as MRSA.

Tests by scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have proven that easy-on, an infection control coating, allows bacteria to be completely wiped off surfaces, helping prevent the spread of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) such as MRSA and new superbug Clostridium difficile.

Developed by Doncaster-based paint company Urban Hygiene, the groundbreaking coating could be welcome relief for NHS Trusts, which have been told to halve MRSA rates by 2008.

The varnish-style solution is also a cost-cutter for hospitals because its bacteria-resistant effects last up to twenty years, regardless of how many times the coated surface is cleaned.

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Experts in the University's Biomedical Research Centre (BMRC) measured the number of bacteria that survived cleaning with a detergent, on surfaces such as wood and metal, which had been coated with easy-on. One hundred per cent of bacteria were removed from surfaces protected with easy-on, but all seven species tested survived on surfaces that had been coated with acrylic paint, and more than half lingered on areas coated with emulsion paint.

The bacteria tested included Bacillus cereus and Salmonella enterica, which cause food poisoning, Stapylococcus Aureus a common skin

organism, and Klebsiella and Psuedomonas, common causes of HAIs.

Dr Justine Daniels from Sheffield Hallam University's BMRC said:

"Our tests prove that easy-on allows the complete removal of all bacteria strains tested, compared with traditional painted surfaces, which allow bacterial growth even after cleaning. Easy-on forms an inert surface that stops bacteria colonising and multiplying.

"Standard bacteria colonise in most places, and are generally harmless. The real problem lies in the fact that bacterial strains are emerging, which are resistant to standard anti-biotic treatments. This is a real issue for hospitals as many patients also have weakened immune systems making them particularly susceptible to infection. Minimising the risk of HAIs is therefore vital, and the use of this coating could be a real help in achieving that".

Roy Johnson, director of Urban Hygiene, added:

"The easy-on coating is unique, and a major breakthrough in the fight against MRSA. Hospital walls are potential breeding grounds for bacteria, and it's a fact that the more surfaces we clean, the fewer bacteria there will be to contribute towards the spread of infection."

Work on the project, funded by Business Link, began in 2005, when Urban Hygiene approached the BMRC to help them investigate their claims about the coating. The BMRC team has already used its expertise to provide microbiology solutions for a number of regional companies; including studies on plants with anti-microbial activity and tests on the efficiency of specialised cleaning cloths.

Urban Hygiene now hopes hospitals will introduce the engineered siloxane coating in their redecoration and cleaning routines, and say the coating could also be effective in the food industry, where bacteria could be harmful. Talks are currently being held with the Ramboult coffee chain in Belgium, following the introduction of stringent new hygiene standards laws.

Kate Burlaga | alfa
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