In Microbiology, News & Views, Partner News

Over the last few years the BBC website has presented a series of articles describing various aspects of the emerging issue of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The popularity of the BBC’s online content alongside a myriad of other web-based information sources allows the public to be largely aware of the problem of resistance although, not being experts, many would be hard pushed to describe in detail the causes, associated statistics and what is being done to minimise its global impact. Actually most people, experts or otherwise, would struggle to describe any practical solutions to the emergence of widespread antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria.

The key word here is ‘practical.’

There is little doubt that solutions are, in theory, at hand but they cannot be considered practical to a problem that is already here. For example, the number one measure that needs to be taken to even begin to relieve the march of antibiotic resistance is to massively curtail of the use of antibiotics in both healthcare and agriculture around the world. The indiscriminate use of antibiotics unnecessarily in healthcare and prophylactically in farmed livestock over a number of years is the main cause of the emergence and spread of resistance. However, it could be argued that no-one truly believes the cessation of antibiotic use in these ways is on the horizon – to many, it just doesn’t seem practical.

The BBC recently published an online article on bacterial resistance to antibiotics entitled, ‘Six grand ideas to fight the end of antibiotics’, presenting a number of antibacterial concepts that the BBC describe as, ‘some of the best ideas to tackle one of the 21st Century’s biggest challenges.’

Sitting in the list of six best ideas are ‘Infection Killing Polymers’ – that is, antibacterial surfaces. The article discusses university research into polymers that seem to possess the ability to kill harmful microbes that come into contact with them. This appears welcome news in support of a valid response to antibiotic resistance, but the concept of polymers with antimicrobial properties is hardly new and we have to wonder why the BBC, with all of its resources, hasn’t picked up on the established story of ‘Infection Killing Polymers’ before?

Consider a polymer, manufactured into a product that is used in environments where hygiene is critical – Healthcare being a prime example. The polymer product is continually at risk of becoming contaminated with harmful microorganisms and, therefore, it is a hazard to humans itself because of the potential for it to pass on these disease-causing microorganisms. Forgetting the role of antibiotics for a moment, why not treat the polymer, at the same time as manufacturing it into the healthcare product, with a chemical (or silver-based antibacterial additive) that kills those same microorganisms? The product remains affordable, its functionality and appearance do not change, but now it benefits from an antibacterial surface. That sounds like a bright idea, right? Well we couldn’t agree more.

The list of concepts that the BBC talk about in their online article are, disappointingly, still under development. However, the problem of antibiotic resistance needs practical action, now. Antimicrobial polymers – in fact antimicrobial materials of all types – are available alongside substantiated scientific research and a plethora of case studies demonstrating their effectiveness in real life environments. BioCote® Antimicrobial Technology in particular is proven to reduce microbial colonisation on a surface by up to 99.99%.

If you are interested in making your product permanently antibacterial, or you know of a company that could benefit from built-in antimicrobial protection, contact a member of the BioCote® team today on +44 (0) 2477 712 489 or message us.

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