Joint US project to tackle healthcare infections

Will focus on health facility surfaces and methods to attack infections while protecting assets

Teams at the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) and Omnova Solutions, both located in Ohio, US, have joined forces in a project to explore the interactions between disinfectants and common health facility surfaces, with the goal of developing solutions that minimise the risk of infection while safeguarding physical assets.

The partnership, which is being funded by a grant from the Omnova Foundation, includes technical support from the Clorox Professional Products Company, a division of The Clorox Company, and global health equipment and diagnostics manufacturer Midmark.

The project involves using Omnova's PreFixx protective coating in healthcare applications and analysing which surfaces, cleaning products and cleaning methods are the most effective in disrupting the transmission of healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs).

'The market is experiencing damage to upholstery as cleaning frequencies are increased and more combinations of cleaning and disinfecting chemicals are utilised,' says Miles Clark, Omnova's Market Manager, Hospitality and Healthcare.

'The project by ABIA will really help provide the healthcare industry with answers to the critical question of how to effectively keep surfaces from harbouring infection while preserving the surfaces for long-term utilisation.'

ABIA offers an industry-driven approach to solution creation through its BioDesign for Business Management programme. Graduate and post-doctoral students in several fields, including medicine, business administration, health sciences, healthcare management, polymer science and engineering and other fields form multidisciplinary teams to conduct first-hand ethnographic research. The teams look at real-life conditions and settings to gain a full understanding of how products and users operate.

'Healthcare-acquired infections and the consequence of disinfectant interaction with common surfaces is a poorly understood area,' says Vivek Narayan, ABIA Director of Programme Management and Entrepreneurial Education.

'The teams come to this project with fresh viewpoints to identify needs from the perspectives of the patient, physician, healthcare professionals and payer that help to develop what can be the basis for an innovative product or solution.'

As possible solutions are developed, the teams work with ABIA's Product Innovation and Commercialisation Division on concept design, assessment of markets and intellectual property, and regulatory implications.

ABIA's BioDesign approach has been used for several projects in the areas of wound care, orthopaedics, cardiology, obstetrics and social health – many of which have resulted in potential products and prototypes under development.

Clorox is providing technical assistance on its disinfectants, including information on the impact of different chemistry types on various surfaces. Representatives from the company's Research & Development operation also are offering guidance on the project plan and proposal.

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