How long does the effect last?
Bäumler: It lasts at least one year. The coating is designed to either be painted on or retroactively applied by wiping it on the surface.
What types of pathogens does the coating protect against?
Bäumler: It basically protects against all infections that typically occur in hospitals, of which there are many. We focus on resistant strains such as MRSA and VRE, but also pay attention to non-resistant bacteria that cause issues. Gram-negative bacteria are likewise an increasing threat.
Our project originated before the coronavirus outbreak, but we are also testing the effect on enveloped viruses in-house, which includes SARS-CoV-2. There are clear indications of effectiveness, but this is not an explicit part of our current project.
The project is still in its early stages. What is the schedule and who is involved?
Bäumler: This is a three-year project with the clinical field study scheduled to last one year. We conduct the study in two intensive care units: in one unit, we coat the contact surfaces, while the other unit serves as a control with uncoated surfaces. Then we constantly compare whether the transmission on the coated surfaces is effectively lower than on the uncoated surfaces.
We at the University Hospital are currently identifying the contact areas that are potential hotspots for transmission of infections and collaborate with two companies from Regensburg.
Dyphox has developed the coating and will equip our intensive care unit this fall. We also team up with PreSens GmbH, which is simultaneously developing a method for the rapid detection of pathogens on surfaces. It uses a fluorescent sensor foil combined with a camera system to visualize the oxygen consumption by pathogens.
The combined technologies are designed to measure the bacterial load on the surfaces once a week for several months. The research hypothesis is that the antimicrobial coating reduces both the number of bacteria and the spread of these pathogenic microorganisms in hospital wards. Of course, we also hope that this will reduce the incidence of nosocomial infections.