Effect of antimicrobial (nano-)coatings on healthcare-associated infections to be studied by 29 countries

by Brianna Crandall — December 5, 2016 — Over 60 universities, research institutes and companies from 29 European countries are to jointly study the impact that antimicrobial (nano-)coatings (AMC) can have on decreasing the spread of infections in healthcare environments. The beneficial aspects of the application of such coatings will be assessed in the context of potential environmental adverse effects, as well as any development of bacterial resistance.

It is the first time that this pressing issue has been addressed on such a scale, according to the group. The partners have joined forces in the AMiCI consortium: AntiMicrobial Coating Innovations to prevent infectious disease — an initiative supported by the European Cooperation in Science & Technology (COST).

The AMiCI consortium met for three days in Heerlen, the Netherlands, in November as the next step in this large-scale project, which will initially run for four years.

It is estimated that over 4 million people acquire a healthcare-associated infection (HCAI) annually, according to the European Centre for Disease prevention and Control research. Not only does this have an impact on public health, but it also brings with it high healthcare costs.

Dr. Francy Crijns, chair of the AMiCI consortium and senior lecturer-researcher at Zuyd University of Applied Sciences in Heerlen, the Netherlands, commented:

As infections and infectious diseases are a continuous threat to human health, it is essential that new methods — applied both additionally and alternatively to an appropriate use of disinfectants and antibiotics — are thoroughly examined to reduce microbial activity, associated infections and the increase of antimicrobial resistance. Multi-disciplinary and international cooperation are pivotal in this process.

A potential and promising weapon against bacterial growth — and, possibly, the development of multi-drug resistant bacteria, has been found in antimicrobial (nano-)coatings (AMC). In coatings fortified with an active ingredient, the ingredient is responsible for the reduction and even elimination of the micro-organisms on coated surfaces.

The central aim of the collaboration is to evaluate the impact of introducing AMC in healthcare environments, on the spread of infections and on the efficacy in fighting HCAIs and bacterial resistance to current antibiotics.

To this effect, AMiCI brings together stakeholders from different countries and disciplines, including knowledge institutes, producers and processors of AMC, as well as organizations involved in ensuring compliance with international hygiene standards. It is envisaged that the links that are strengthened in the consortium will lead to joint research initiatives in this area far beyond the four-year target.

Five working groups within the AMiCI consortium will concentrate on the design of antimicrobial materials, their performance testing, risk assessment, management and cleaning, as well as communications.