Scientists from the University of Alicante are engaged in the European project FLEXPOL to make an antimicrobial adhesive film to reduce infection risk in hospitals
In hospitals, patients, visitors and staff are at high risk of fatal bacterial infections. More than 500,000 people in Europe get infected in unsterilised transit areas such as toilets, corridors or rooms each year.
The University of Alicante Research Group in Polymer and Nanomaterial Analysis (NANOBIOPOL) is involved in FLEXPOL, a project to make an antimicrobial adhesive film reducing infection risk in hospitals. NANOBIOPOL is working together with research and industry staff from Italy, Spain, Portugal, the UK and Germany.
FLEXPOL, funded by the European Commission, intends to develop a pilot line for cost-effectively producing these transparent, antimicrobial, polypropylene-based films.
The surface structure, combined with the material, can kill several types of germs and inhibit bacterial growth with a 99% effectiveness rate. Specifically, the structures employed cause mechanical damage to cell membranes, thus killing pathogens.
This strategy will guarantee patients and medical staff’s health protection and bring considerable economic benefits, also reducing spending on detergents and disinfectants.
The researchers from the NANOBIOPOL group, Alfonso Jiménez, María del Carmen Garrigós and Carlos Pelegrín, are designing formulations with antimicrobial properties from essential oils extracted from plants such as thyme or oregano for use as bactericidal agents.
Jiménez said: “Our main role is to develop the polypropylene film with the antimicrobial essential oils in the laboratory. These oils are extracted from natural plants such as thyme or rosemary, which can be found near Alicante and are integrated in the basic material of the film.”
These antimicrobial plastic films will be used in hospitals to reduce infection risk. FLEXPOL’s main goal is for the material to be used on large surfaces, such as walls and floors, as well as on smaller ones, like tables, beds or doorknobs, where more and more bacteria grow.
The product will be tested in actual medical environments, namely at Donostia University Hospital, a project partner, to evaluate how effective, durable and infection-resistant these films are, as well as their compatibility with the cleaning and disinfection protocols in place.
The FLEXPOL project, launched in January 2017, will be running for three years and is set to receive €5.17 million of funding from the European Union.