This project will work with our industrial partner, Saraco Ltd. to optimise and translate degradable wet wipes for use in hospitals. We currently have non-woven degradable wet wipe prototypes designed. This project will ascertain how these prototypes interact with biocides and test their antimicrobial activity when used. This project will also study the materials aspects (the non-woven fabric and the surfactant used) to understand their efficacy in use and their end-of-life degradation profile. The possibility of using a controlled release system to deliver drugs they may improve the antimicrobial performance of the wet wipes will also be analysed.
In recent years, the major threat to human health has been pathogenic microorganisms and viruses present in common environments, such as public transport, schools, and markets, among others . These pathogens may cause several infections when entering the human body via different pathways, such as the colonization of skin surfaces being a quick way to transfer by hands to mucosa, mouth or nose, and wounds. On the other hand, microorganisms also could be transferred to surfaces (inanimate) and devices that are already contaminated with pathogens, facilitating the quick spread of skin, mucosa, and bloodstream infections. One of the most critical environments for quick spread is hospitals and central healthcare services. Surfaces such as floors, walls, bed rails, and mattresses have been identified as a source of contamination. Thus, the transfer of nosocomial pathogens may occur from high-touch environmental surfaces and medical devices between patients, visitors, and healthcare workers. This health issue brings significantly increased patient mortality and raises the economic cost of hospitalizations and medical treatments [1,3,4]. Strategies to prevent hospital-acquired infections include personal protective equipment use, improved hand washing practices, including the use of hand sanitiser, the appropriate use of antimicrobials, and surface disinfection and cleaning. Surface cleaning can reduce microbial loads and their dissemination. It is well known and demonstrated that a periodic routine of disinfection of environmental surfaces can decrease the risk of patients developing infections. The successful use of wet wipes for healthcare applications are being an effective solution for efficacy infection .
Main questions to be answered:
- Natural alternatives to biocides -how they interact with other natural biocides and to measure their efficacy against bacteria/viruses/fungi (EN standards) to determine if they can match or improve on the current offering. This will include adding adjuncts such as lactic acid and seaweed-derived polymers to improve antimicrobial activity in an environmentally friendly manner.
- Waste reduction in non-woven materials. Currently there is waste produced from the manufacturing process that includes soiled non-woven fabric which is currently sent to landfill. Can we reduce this waste and/or utilise this waste for other industries and reduce our landfill costs?
- Monitoring the use of wet wipes in actual healthcare settings to see if the wipes are being used correctly and note the efficacy of the wipes by monitoring bacterial/viral growth after different times determining its efficacy and how this can be improved.
- Research on different surfaces and equipment in hospitals after cleaning to monitor bacteria/viral growth
- Drug delivery using wipes – understand the possibilities and see if any existing drugs may warrant such use?