germs, bacteria on contact
Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop
Researchers say that a new polymer
coating known as HexyL-PVP could be applied to keyboards, telephones,
children's toys, door knobs and numerous other items, is capable
of killing most of the common bacteria that cause serious infections.
coating depends on a non-chemical action to kill the germs. Basically,
the polymer carries a permanent positive charge. This is undetectable
and harmless for humans, but at a microscopic level, it's like taking
a seat in an electric chair. The charge is enough to rupture the
bacteria walls and their inner membranes.
Researchers are claiming that Hexyl-PVP
can kill up to 99 percent of dangerous microbes such as Staphylococcus,
E. coli and Pseudomonas.
At stake for the bacteria is not only
their lives, but the infections they spread by hanging around on
frequently used surfaces like telephones, door knobe and bathroom
Joerg Tiller of the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology stated that "You could coat any type of surface
with this material, and it would be there permanently. It is chemically
attached so that it cannot be washed away." The polymer could
also guard against infections commonly spread by sneezes and dirty
Tiller said that in order to test the
polymer for toxicity, the researchers put mouse cells on a coated
surface. He said, "the mouse cells grew, but this is only the
first test. As long as the polymer remains attached to a surface,
it should not be toxic" to humans.
anti-bacterial coating could be incorporated into the manufacturing
process so that the surface of many products could be permanently
sterile,Tiller said. And he continued to say that the surfaces would
require periodic washing to remove dead bacteria that float out
of the air and land on the killing surface.
"And the best thing is,"
according to Tiller, "you could coat people with it directly,
to discourage the spread of nosocomial infections and whatnot. I
myself got coated eleven months age, and haven't been sick yet!"
There are no current plans by MIT to
bring the Hexyl-PVP coating to the market.