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A pilot line of antibacterial and antifungal medical textiles based on a sonochemical process

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Reducing hospital infections through innovative textiles

Infections that occur in the hospital are a major health concern in Europe, as well as a significant economic burden. An EU initiative developed a novel process to create antimicrobial textiles for use in hospitals.

Health

One in 10 hospital patients are affected by nosocomial infections. The result is an extension of hospital stays by more than 10 million patient days per year in Europe alone. Impregnating hospital textiles, such as bedding and bandages, with antibacterial nanoparticles, would significantly decrease hospital-acquired infections, improve patient outcomes and save millions of euros. To achieve this, the EU-funded SONO (A pilot line of antibacterial and antifungal medical textiles based on a sonochemical process) project expanded on a recently proven and patented single-step laboratory process. This involved impregnating the textiles with copper oxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles. Project partners created two pilot plants to optimise the coating process, including computational modelling of pressure, fluid dynamics and heat transport inside the sonochemical reactors. Findings were used in the scale-up to industrial level. Software and control equipment for the reactors were developed, tested and installed at the pilot plants. Nanoparticle-coated fabrics were tested and displayed effective antibacterial properties and good longevity. The pilot plants showed that this is an effective method of producing textiles with strong antibacterial qualities. Researchers found that metal oxide nanoparticles can kill both sensitive bacteria and bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. To demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of antibacterial nanoparticles in a hospital setting. Twenty-five patients slept and were dressed with antibacterial cotton textiles and their bacterial contamination was compared with 19 patients who were dressed and slept on regular hospital textiles. The 25 patients were less contaminated with bacteria. Previous to this research, no sonochemical procedure for producing and impregnating textiles with antibacterial nanoparticles existed on an industrial scale. Thanks to SONO, antibacterial textiles will be manufactured by a one-step process that uses nanoparticles. This reduces production time and fibre damage, lowers production costs and uses an environmentally friendly water solution. Textile manufacturers now have all they need to step up commercialisation efforts.

Keywords

Antibacterial textiles, nosocomial infections, antibacterial nanoparticles, medical textiles, sonochemical process

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