Can Antimicrobial Technology Address Healthcare Infections?
Jul 17, 2023 Dr Nadia Tsao
IDTechEx Discusses Applications of Antimicrobial Technology in Addressing Healthcare Infections
Healthcare-associated infections (HAI), also known as hospital-acquired infections, are a major problem healthcare systems face worldwide. Each year, millions of patients contract infectious diseases while in hospital. These HAIs not only lengthen hospital stays and utilize resources such as hospital beds but also have deadly consequences. While proper medical practice, such as good hand hygiene, can go a long way, there are additional tools that health systems can use to address this silent pandemic.
Antimicrobial technologies are additives and coatings that enable products to combat microorganisms effectively. These antimicrobial products not only protect themselves from the likes of bacteria and fungi, but they can also protect people. IDTechEx has recently published a market research report on the topic, "Antiviral and Antimicrobial Technology Market 2023-2033", examining the technologies, applications, and drivers for the antimicrobial technology industry. One of the key motivations for companies interviewed by IDTechEx is the development of antimicrobial technology to address the problem of HAIs.
While antimicrobial technologies can be shown to be extremely efficient in laboratory settings, these often do not match real-life conditions. Field tests and clinical trials within hospitals are required to understand if antimicrobial technologies can truly lower the rate of HAIs.
High-touch surfaces such as bed rails, buttons, and door handles have a high chance of harboring harmful microorganisms. Rather than creating new antimicrobial versions of these surfaces from scratch, spray-on antimicrobial coatings can be applied. Companies such as Goldshield and Dyphox have demonstrated in peer-reviewed journals that their antimicrobial spray coatings can reduce surface bioburden in hospitals. Goldshield has even demonstrated that this reduction in microorganisms on surfaces translates to decreased infection risk in the hospital. Though these companies utilize vastly different antimicrobial technologies (Goldshield uses an organosilane-based biocide and Dyphox a photocatalyst), the ability to apply both technologies as a spray allows for rapid deployment and easy reapplication.
Patients are in constant contact with textiles such as bed sheets, blankets and their clothing while in the hospital. Unlike surfaces that can be cleaned every hour, textiles are not washed as frequently. However, like surfaces, they can also become a source of HAIs. Several companies have developed technologies to embed antimicrobial technologies, such as silver and copper, into fibers and yarns. For example, Cupron's copper-infused textiles have been tested in a range of clinical studies. Results show that not only are these antimicrobial textiles effective in reducing HAIs, but that they can also improve the general wellbeing of skin. Separately, Applied Silver has developed a different concept: applying antimicrobial silver at each laundry cycle. Their product, SilvaClean, is utilized by the hospitality, sports, and healthcare industries.
More Evidence Is Required
Though hundreds of companies are developing antimicrobial technology and thousands upon thousands of antimicrobial products, not all antimicrobials are created equal. Only a handful of companies have conducted the necessary research to demonstrate the impact of their product on human health. Studies in the laboratory are often run in conditions that do not mirror those in the real world, including temperature, humidity, and even the way that the product would be used.
However, antimicrobial technologies should be used with care. In many cases, microorganisms use the same biological mechanisms to combat antimicrobial technologies as they do with antibiotic drugs. The overuse of antimicrobial technologies in daily life is risky for the world, as it adds to the evolutionary pressure on microorganisms toward antibiotic resistance.
To find out more about the IDTechEx report "Antiviral and Antimicrobial Technology Market 2023-2033", including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/antimicrobial.