Attacking superbugs in the hospital

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than 70,000 Americans will die each year from an infection they caught in the hospital. Superbugs have invaded hospitals and proved difficult to treat. Now, there are two breakthroughs that are showing promise.

They are tiny, sneaky and deadly. These infections are lurking inside hospitals everywhere.

"The organisms are smart. They're always a step ahead of us!" Sasha Madison, MPH, Director of Infection Prevention Program, Stanford Hospital and Clinics told ABC30.

Superbugs like MRSA, C. diff and E. coli are hard to treat, but scientists from Queen's University Belfast in Ireland have developed a gel that kills infections.

"Our gel is unique because they are the first peptide-based gel that acts against resistant bio-forms of hospital superbugs," said Garry Laverty, PhD, research leader at the School of Pharmacy, Queen's University Belfast.

The gel is derived from peptides -- the same building blocks of natural proteins that form human tissue.

"They occur naturally, and are natural molecules that fight infection," Laverty said.

Another weapon in infection fighting is a robot. It essentially cleans and disinfects a hospital room.

"We have a higher level of assurance that the room is truly the cleanest it can be for our patients," said Madison.

The Xenex uses UV pulsating light to disrupt an organism's DNA -- killing spores, bacteria, viruses and mold.

"So, what we're trying to do is bring those organisms way, way, way, down," Madison said.

In one study, the robot reduced surface contamination in the O.R. by 81 percent and air contamination by 46 percent.

Two new ways to fight infections, and maybe save lives.

The disinfecting robot can be used in patient rooms, the operating room and even the ER.

Researchers in Ireland have published more about their infection-fighting gel in the Biomacromolecules Journal article.

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Jane Veitch (UK PR)
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