Scientists create varnish that kills bacteria in a few minutes

A multidisciplinary team of scientists, led by Jorge Coelho and Paula Morais, from the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra (FCTUC), have developed a varnish for surfaces that kills even the most resistant bacteria in just 15 minutes, a safe and effective solution to prevent and combat hospital infections.

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From left to right -Rita Branco, Arménio Serra, Paula Morais and Jorge Coelho
From left to right -Rita Branco, Arménio Serra, Paula Morais and Jorge Coelho
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This new smart varnish with high antimicrobial activity, which is activated by the action of white light, harmless to humans, was developed under the research project “SafeSurf”, funded by the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), and had the participation of researchers from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Porto (FEUP) and the University of Trás-os-Montes e Alto Douro (UTAD).

The series of antimicrobial tests carried out with the developed varnish showed its effectiveness in eliminating bacteria. The great innovation, according to the project coordinators, lies in the fact that “we can incorporate these two compounds in a polyurethane-based industrial formulation varnish, using industrial conditions, giving the varnish the innovation of antibacterial functionality, thus facilitating its market launch. The formulation of the varnish containing the cationic polymers and the photosensitizer was a highly complex stage of the project that was carried out by our colleagues from FEUP”.

Knowing that the vast majority of infections occur in hospital environments, Jorge Coelho and Paula Morais point out that “intelligent surface coatings that have several mechanisms of antimicrobial activity have emerged as an advanced approach to safely prevent this type of infection”. Thus, they add, this new varnish represents “an effective and safe solution for the prevention and control of nosocomial infections [acquired in hospitals], since it prevents the spread of bacteria on surfaces”.

Questioned about when this solution may reach the market, professors and researchers from FCTUC’s Chemical Engineering and Life Sciences Departments state that, from the scientific point of view, “the concept is proven, i.e., an effective varnish was developed that is completely safe for human beings. However, it is necessary to perform an economic evaluation of the project”.

Source: University of Coimbra

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