19-Nov-2010

Violet HINS-light kills hospital bugs

Microbiologists Professor Anderson with team colleague Dr Michelle Maclean

Scottish scientists have found a way to use light to kill MRSA and C.diff hospital superbugs.

A team from the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow has developed a technology that uses HINS-light to decontaminate the air and exposed surfaces.

Clinical trials at Glasgow Royal Infirmary have shown that the system provides ‘significantly greater reductions of bacterial pathogens in the hospital environment than can be achieved by cleaning and disinfection alone’, which is a step forward in the ability of hospitals to prevent the spread of infection.

This novel decontamination technology was discovered and developed by a multidisciplinary team that included an electrical engineer, microbiologists and an optical physicist.

Microbiology professor John Anderson said: “The system works by using a narrow spectrum of visible-light wavelengths to excite molecules contained within bacteria. This in turn produces highly reactive chemical species that are lethal to bacteria such as MRSA and C.diff.”

He added that the technology kills pathogens but is harmless to patients and staff, which means hospitals can continuously disinfect wards and isolation rooms.

“The clinical trials have shown that the technology can help prevent the environmental transmission of pathogens and thereby increase patient safety.”

The technology uses violet HINS-light, but the researchers have used a combination of LED technologies to produce a warm white lighting system that can be used alongside normal hospital lighting.

Professor Scott MacGregor, Dean of Strathclyde University’s Faculty of Engineering, said new methods were needed overcome the limitations of other decontamination methods, such as gas sterilants or UV light.

The technology was developed in Strathclyde's Robertson Trust Laboratory for Electronic Sterilisation Technologies (ROLEST).

The related article, 'Environmental decontamination of a hospital isolation room using high-intensity narrow-spectrum light', by M. Maclean, S.J. Macgregor, J.G. Anderson, G.A. Woolsey, J.E. Coia, K. Hamilton, I. Taggart, S.B. Watson, B. Thakker, and G. Gettinby, can be found in the Journal of Hospital Infection 76 (2010) 247-251.

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