Nanotech to the (Medical) Rescue: Anti-bacterial Coating for Textiles Poised to Save Lives

Prof. Aharon Gedanken pioneered the field of sonochemistry – a discipline in which chemicalreactions are accelerated through the application of ultrasonic sound waves. 

In one of his most recent achievements, he has created a sonochemistry-based coating method for textiles which may significantly improve human health.

“Two to four million people die in hospitals every year from bacterial infections,” Gedanken says. “The solution is to make all the textiles used by hospitals – from bed sheets to pajamas to curtains between the beds – resistant to bacteria.  This will reduce infection rates, and save lives.”

For the past four years, Gedanken has been the director of an EU research consortium charged with finding the best method for coating rolls of textiles with anti-bacterial nanoparticles.  The method devised by Gedanken – who had already designed nanoparticle coating methods for plastic, metal and paper – showed outstanding anti-bacterial functionality.

“We coated 4,000 meters of fabric, which was used to create sheets, pajamas and other hospital items for 22 patients in a hospital in Bulgaria,” he says.  “A control group of 17 hospital patients who used normal hospital linens was also tracked.  Twice-daily swabs to test bacterial levels showed that the patients surrounded with the treated fabrics had a significantly lower level of exposure and contamination.”

Another advantage of the method is its stability. The coated textiles were washed by Gedanken’s scientific colleagues in Romania 65 times in temperatures between 75 and 92 degrees centigrade ­– over twice as hot as water used in home washing machines. Then, separate research groups in England and Spain conducted imaging of the washed textiles, revealing that the nanoparticles remained firmly attached and fully functional.

Gedanken’s textile technology has now been licensed to two companies.  The first, in Mexico, will be creating machines for manufacturing NP-treated textiles for sale in the North American market.  A second company, in Israel, plans to do the same for the rest of the world, after first conducting a local study at Tel Aviv’s Ichilov hospital. 

 

This article was originally published in the BINA Newsletter No. 3 - March 2015