UMass Lowell researchers have created germ-killing fabric that could help stop the spread of communicable diseases.
The team is working to embed a germ-killing agent known as N-halamine into hospital scrubs and other garments worn by medical professionals and patients to reduce the risk of exposure to drug-resistant bacteria and other harmful pathogens in health-care settings.
The work is supported by a $417,000 grant over the next two years from the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
On any given day, one in 31 patients develops an infection as a result of their hospital stay, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health-care staff are also at greater risk to fall ill from infection due to germs present in their work environment.
The UMass Lowell researchers are developing a way not only to treat fabrics with N-halamine but to re-charge the textile's effectiveness in killing germs by rinsing it in bleach as part of the laundry cycle.
Wearers can check the N-halamine level in the fabric with potassium iodine strips. If the test shows that the N-halamine on the fabric surface is used up, the fabric's germ-fighting ability can be renewed by rinsing it in a bleach solution. The recharging process can be repeated as needed throughout the entire service life of the garments." Yuyu Sun, UMass Lowell Chemistry Professor
Prof. Yuyu Sun is an Acton resident who is leading the research with Nancy Goodyear, associate professor of biomedical and nutritional sciences.
In contrast, removing harmful bacteria on health-care workers' clothing that is not treated with a germ-killing agent would require the wearers to change their garments every few hours, said Goodyear, who lives in Chelmsford. Related Stories
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