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Coating equipment could cut health infections says Edinburgh University study

Bacteria on hands seen in ultraviolet light (SPL) Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Bacteria live on the hands of even the most scrupulously clean people

The risk of deadly hospital infections could be reduced by coating medical equipment with newly-discovered materials that repel bacteria, a study has found.

Edinburgh University researchers used an advanced screening method to identify possible coatings.

After testing hundreds of man-made materials, they found two significantly reduced the risk.

The protective layer cut the numbers of bacteria by up to 96%.

Combat infections

The team said preventing bacteria from attaching to medical instruments - such as catheters, breathing tubes and artificial implants - could significantly reduce the risk of infections and the spread of disease.

Once bacteria attach to a surface, they create a protective biological layer around themselves known as a biofilm.

It acts as a physical barrier that makes the organisms highly resistant to antibiotics used to combat infections.

Coating medical devices with substances can prevent the biofilms forming and the researchers said existing materials are often expensive and only partially effective, with some risking allergic reactions in patients.

Seshasailam Venkateswaran, of the university's college of science and engineering, led the study and said: "Bacterial infections on medical devices are a serious and global issue.

"With the continued emergence of highly antibiotic-resistant bacteria, antibiotic-free polymer coatings which prevent a wide range of dangerous organisms from binding to such devices have tremendous potential to reduce infections."

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