Innovative nanotechnology in the fight against hospital infections

Hospital infections are said to be one of the leading causes of death in developed countries over the next few decades. The new status report of the VDI Society Materials Engineering (GME) deals with the topic and shows how innovative strategies can solve the problem. Nanotechnology plays an important role in this.

The thin superconductor foil makes new nano-coatings possible, for example for space or medicine. PhD student XianLin Zeng from the team of Uwe Hartmann co-developed the film.

The thin superconductor film makes new nano-coatings possible, for example for space or medicine. PhD student XianLin Zeng from the team of Uwe Hartmann co-developed the film.

Photo: Oliver Dietze / Saarland University

VDI Committee of Experts shows possible applications on

“Hospital infections are in One of the most frequent causes of death in developed countries over the next decades, “warns Adi Parzl, Chairman of the VDI Committee of Experts on Nuclear Nuclear Reduction in the Clinical Environment. For clinics, it is a great effort to regularly remove inanimate surfaces such as instruments, tables or gowns from germs. The most common pathogens of hospital infections are the so-called facultative pathogenic bacteria, which belong to the normal body flora of humans. Dangerous urinary tract infections or respiratory tract infections may result.

The aim of the first status report is to raise awareness of this issue among healthcare professionals. The report highlights the use of nanotechnology for reducing germs in clinical settings from all key perspectives.

How do resistant hospital germs develop?

Infections can be life-threatening for the weakened or elderly. For a long time, antibiotics were considered a miracle cure for bacteria. But the drug is increasingly losing power: more and more germs are resistant to the drug. New antibiotics are hardly developed. Officially it says: 15,000 people die annually from the hospital germs. In addition, hygiene regulations are not consistently adhered to in the current medical and healthcare system.

Innovative hygiene strategies are needed

The listed situation requires innovative solutions to effectively support existing hygiene strategies. One of these measures are antimicrobial surfaces. The idea is that surfaces are kept low in germs not only during the cleaning and disinfection cycles, but also between these cycles.

The germs remaining after a disinfection measure, e.g. can be redistributed through contact with surfaces can be limited by the use of antimicrobial surfaces. Due to their specific properties, nanomaterials are particularly suitable for the conversion of antimicrobial surfaces.

What are nanomaterials?

Nanomaterials are special – namely particularly small. They are up to 10,000 times thinner than a human hair. Nanomaterials are not a pure product from the laboratory, but they also occur in nature, e.g. in ashes. Nanotechnology makes it possible to develop materials that contain nanoforms. The advantages are enormous: If nanotitanium dioxides are used to coat chairs or tables made of plastic, these surfaces are self-cleaning. Water does not form droplets on such a surface.

Nanotechnologies in use: How to reduce germs

Antimicrobial surfaces can not replace conventional cleaning and disinfection measures, but can effectively complement them. Disinfection measures are time-related in everyday clinical practice and place demands on the professionalism of the staff. On the other hand, surfaces with antimicrobial effectiveness fall under the hygiene strategy, which can be used in addition between the cleaning intervals, regardless of the professionalism of the staff. Surfaces such as cracks, which are difficult to access, thus obtain further hygiene protection.

Nanotechnology-based surfaces are basically conceivable in all hygiene-relevant, clinical and medical fields. The VDI Technical Committee has defined three areas as areas of application: