Hospital disinfectant of the future?

11th of January 2018 Article by Anna Garbagna
Hospital disinfectant of the future?

ECJ's Italian correspondent Anna Garbagna reports on a new formula developed in Rome which could become a future hospital disinfectant.

Breaking news for the scenario of the cleaning of large communities - especially those connected with healthcare.

Research carried out by Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, in cooperation with  National Research Council (CNR) in Rome, found solutions to achieve new possibilities to defeat antibiotic resistance in hospitals by using a totally innovative formula.

The discovery lead to a new formulation, which can be obtained in gel or liquid form, based on graphene, a material made of carbon which is found in common pencil graphite. Graphene has the tensile strength of diamond and the flexibility of plastic. Furthermore, and this is the great discovery, apparently graphene can destroy bacteria and killer fungi in hospitals, such as Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans to name but a few.

“Graphene could become a hospital disinfectant, we are close to this target” declared Professor Massimiliano Papi from the research group of Università Cattolica in Rome.

The benefit is double, given that graphene is an environmentally friendly molecule as well as a substance which can be obtained at low cost. Furthermore, as well as being a disinfectant graphene could be used to coat medical and surgical instruments and thus contribute to reducing infections, especially after a surgical operation when these type of contagions easily occur. 

All this would also lead to a reduction in the use of antibiotics and therefore antibiotic resistance. The team that worked  on this project examined in particular the effect of graphene on three bacteria: Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus faecalis, causes of opportunistic infections (ie, typical of organisms associated with compromised immune systems) and nosocomial (ie, occurred during hospitalisation or after the patient’s discharge when the condition was not clinically evident at the time of admission to hospital nor in incubation), and Escherichia coli, which can cause severe food poisoning.

Graphene has triple mechanisms of action: it can cut the bacteria’s walls like a blade thus killing them; it can trap bacteria like a blanket isolating them from the external world thus suffocating them; and last but not least, it can alter their metabolism to prevent multiplication. It is exactlythis triple action which makes it superior to other contemporary antibacterial agents which the killer germs can easily create resistance to.

“It is about a strongly interdisciplinary study, where the basic competences on physics of complex systems are vital for a concrete application, which is near to practical use,” commented Professor Conti, director of the Institute of Complex Systems at CNR in Rome. “Results like these
put the science of complexity at the cornerstone of modern research” .

“Graphene could become a hospital disinfectant - we are close to this target,” concluded Professor Papi.

This is definitely a great step forward in the search for best hygiene as well as for cost control in the field of communities and hospitals cleaning.


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