Anti-bacterial textiles to save lives
Friday, July 29, 2016
The same bacteria that make your sweaty socks smell are responsible for some 1.7 million hospital-associated infections in the US alone. An Israeli antibacterial fabric may offer a solution.
What makes sweaty socks smell? It’s not the moisture; it’s the bacteria that grow in the damp fabric. If you could alter or banish those microbes, you could wear sweaty socks for a week without offending anyone. Israeli Prof. Aharon Gedanken’s success with antibacterial socks, a product intended for Israeli soldiers that never made it to market, may hold the key to addressing what is actually a global healthcare concern.
The fact is, fabric-bred bacteria aren’t just a smelly problem. They are also responsible for hospital-acquired infections affecting nearly nine percent of patients in both developed and resource-poor countries, according to the World Health Organization. That translates to some 1.7 million hospital-associated infections in the United States – causing or contributing to 99,000 deaths each year – and 25,000 infection-related deaths in European hospitals. Most often, the bacteria gain a foothold through wounds or foreign bodies such as catheters.
A multinational consortium headed by Gedanken recently won a 12 million-euro grant from the European Union (EU) for manufacturing machines in Europe that will more quickly roll out fabric impregnated with zinc oxide nanoparticles to make antibacterial hospital sheets, curtains, gowns, towels – anything that is made of textiles for hospital use.
“This is a novelty, and we are negotiating with some big companies,” says Gedanken, director of the Kanbar Laboratory for Nanomaterials at the Bar-Ilan University Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) Gedanken created an innovative chemical process that reduces zinc oxide, a gentle but effective natural substance often used to combat diaper rash, into microscopic nanoparticles.
He is coordinating a four-year consortium of 17 textile manufacturers, universities, and government agencies in England, France, Italy, Spain, Russia, Bulgaria and Poland working to perfect a technique to coat and mass produce antibacterial fabric.
This article has been republished with permission by www.israel21c.org. Click here to continue reading.
Abigail Klein Leichman | Israel21C
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