Engineering News

Plastic 'Secret Agent' Kills Superbugs
Friday April 28, 12:34 pm ET

Additive from Welsh startup kills e-coli, salmonella, other bacteria instantly

CARDIFF, Wales, April 28 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the Welsh contestants in Wales' Technium Challenge Awards competition this year is an entrepreneurial company called SteriTouch, developer of a range of products made from plastics containing an antimicrobial agent that kills bacteria instantly.

Products made from these materials are inherently antimicrobial, which means that bacteria coming in contact with them -- including e-coli, salmonella and the superbug MRSA -- are instantly destroyed. Since products containing SteriTouch also need no specialist treatment during their lifetimes, they represent low-maintenance, cost-effective, long-term weapons against infection.

Healthcare market applications have enormous potential, according to SteriTouch's founder and director, Huw Durban. Citing UK statistics, he noted that government figures show that more than 5,000 people die each year as a result of superbug infections acquired during a hospital stay, and that the direct cost to the UK's National Health Service of MRSA infection exceeds one billion pounds ($1.8 billion).

He also cited opportunities to improve hygiene in offices, pointing to a University of Arizona Workplace Germ Study in 2002 demonstrating that an office desk, typically cleaned less than twice a year, harbors significantly more germs than a toilet seat. The germs included such illness-causing bacteria as staphylococcus Aureus and salmonella.

The SteriTouch antimicrobial additive or masterbatch can be added to most polymers during the manufacturing process. It has been successfully incorporated into plastics, paints, lacquers, fabrics and cement, and is currently being used in products ranging from sports bottles, kitchen worktops, drink holders and water purification units to light switches, food processing utensils, keyboard covers and pens.

Of the 30 businesses representing a range of technology sectors from all over the United Kingdom, SteriTouch has been short-listed as one of 16 finalists in the Technium Challenge 2006.

"Technium," as Andrew Davis, Wales Minister for Enterprise, Innovation and Networks, describes it, "is a made-in-Wales solution designed to help these technology-based companies with their research and development activities, and help turn their innovative ideas into commercial propositions." The overall winner of Technium Challenge 2006, plus two runners-up, will be announced by the minister at an awards ceremony in Cardiff, Wales on May 18th.

Source: International Business Wales

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