Antimicrobial surfaces in the fight against infections

Amid the current corona pandemic, the prevention of infections is a hot topic. The European AMiCI ePlatform network, in which Sirris is also involved, aims to accelerate the knowledge building in relation to new antimicrobial surfaces as a tool in the fight against resistant bacteria that are becoming an increasingly strong enemy in hospitals. Every year an estimated 37,000 people die from such infection directly and a further 110,000 hospital patients indirectly. In order to introduce the knowledge gained to the market, this project will now be followed up with an ePlatform for a test bed tool across the EU, for antimicrobial coating solutions in healthcare that will be launched on the market.  

Bacteria and viruses spread, for example, through contact, directly from person to person or through surfaces. The most efficient preventive measure is hand hygiene, combined with efficient cleaning. Despite these and other measures, the number of resistant bacteria in hospitals is steadily increasing. Even the strongest antibiotics no longer provide a remedy. For viruses such as COVID-19 or the norovirus it is even more difficult as antibiotics have no effect at all.

Surfaces with the intrinsic ability to eliminate microbes are an aid in the fight against these microorganisms. The antimicrobial properties of copper and silver have long been known. Bacteria that end up on copper surfaces, for example, are killed within 1 to 2 hours. Recent research showed that the COVID-19 virus was detectable for only 4 hours on a Cu surface, while for other surfaces such as steel, cardboard and plastic it was detectable and transmissible for up to several days. New substances and coatings have been developed, within research projects and by companies, for application on frequently touched surfaces, each with specific properties, advantages and disadvantages. The challenge today is to prove the effectiveness of these new coatings in realistic healthcare situations.  It is always very difficult to investigate the impact of a coating on the spread of invisible enemies, especially in a hospital where many parameters (cleaning, visitors, staff, patients, ...) can have an impact on the result.    

AMiCI network for new hygienic applications 

Researchers, companies and experts from different disciplines (coatings, materials, microbiology, healthcare) have researched the state-of-the-art on the possible use of antimicrobial surfaces in hospital settings on a European scale within the COST AMiCI network in which Sirris was also involved with expertise in coatings. It was investigated, for example, how new antimicrobial products which do not promote resistance in the long term could be developed, how cleaning affects effectiveness, how studies can be performed efficiently and how the regulations allow market introduction.    

Follow-up project COST Innovator Grant 

This project will now be followed up with an ePlatform for a testbed tool on a European scale (COST Innovators CIG-15114). The ePlatform offers a solution to support testing in realistic situations. In addition, a business plan is also being developed that organisations can use when they go to market. The ePlatform also includes a decision tool for hospitals using the antimicrobial surfaces. In the new project, Sirris will assist the industry in introducing coating technology through consulting, feasibility testing and scaling up. These will be mechanical and chemical durability tests on antimicrobial coatings.