After my last article on how microplastics can harbour viruses and the questions I got from @lemouth, concerning viruses surviving on the surface of substances, I have decided to publish an interactive article stressing the new work about how scientists are striving to mimic successfully texture of insect wings or using new types of materials to create surfaces that kill or inhibit microbes. At the time of writing this, this new research is yet to capture momentum in terms of public application because it's still under development.
Now, let's move on with the study without further delay!!!
These drug-resistant illnesses are responsible for the deaths of 700,000 individuals annually according to WHO. There has been a gradual decline in the number of effective drugs available to combat dangerous germs during the past decade. Also, nearly as quickly as we can create new treatments, the pathogens we utilize to treat fungal, viral, and parasitic diseases are evolving resistance to those same drugs. Because of this, it's becoming more challenging to effectively cure the diseases they spread.
Infectious illness expert Dr Larrouy-Maumus from Imperial College London in the UK has issued a dire warning: "If we do nothing, 10 million people per year will die."
He is one of the people trying to find innovative solutions to the problem of antibiotic resistance. That's why he wants to employ the very surfaces that these germs rely on to move from person to person as weapons against them.
According to Larrouy-Maumus, >the surfaces that we contact on a regular basis have the potential to act as a vector of transmission.
The virus that is responsible for Covid-19, known as Sars-CoV-2, may live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, whereas on plastic and stainless steel it can live for up to 3 days. A number of microorganisms, including E. Coli and MRSA are two types of bacteria that are able to live on inanimate surfaces for an extended period of time, whereas infectious yeasts can live on these surfaces for weeks or even months. This simply serves to emphasize how critical it is to routinely disinfect and clean areas of a surface that will be touched by a large number of people.
Some researchers believe it is possible to eliminate potential vectors of infection by altering the surface textures we employ or coating things with substances that kill bacteria and viruses more quickly.
The strategy of Larrouy-investment Maumus centers on copper alloys. In just two hours, copper alloys can eliminate 99.9 percent of germs thanks to the presence of antiviral and antibacterial ions. Unlike silver, which must be coupled with moisture before it can exert its antibacterial effects, copper's antimicrobial properties can be utilized without the presence of moisture.
Larrouy-Maumus argues that copper is the best option because it has been in use for three thousand years. Copper was used in the kitchen and as medicine by the Ancient Greeks.
Despite this, copper is rarely used in modern hospitals. Many individuals also find these materials unappealing since they are costly, difficult to clean without causing rust, and generally unpopular. For instance, some people may feel uncomfortable sitting on a metal toilet seat. This has led to the gradual replacement of copper with stainless steel and, more recently, plastic, which has the advantage of being lightweight and affordable so that "you don't need to sterilise it again," as Larrouy-Maumus puts it.
The razor-sharp edges of graphene sheets could sever the bacterial membrane and kill the microbe on the inside.
Even while it would be impractical to coat everything in copper, Larrouy-Maumus thinks that copper alloys applied to high-touch areas like elevator buttons and door handles could assist to prevent cross-contamination and, by extension, the spread of microorganisms.
Copper can also be laser-treated to create a rough texture, which enhances its surface area and hence its bactericidal efficacy. The method, which was created by scientists at Purdue University in Indiana, is effective against even highly concentrated strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics in as little as two hours. Door handles aren't the only things that could benefit from antimicrobial treatments; medical implants like hip replacements could also benefit from them.
Changing the feel of surfaces is another potential method for preventing the spread of disease.
According to Elena Ivanova, a molecular biochemist at RMIT University in Australia, "cicada insect wings are famous for their self-cleaning capability." They have superhydrophobic wings, so water beads up and rolls off them as it does on lotus leaves, carrying impurities with it. She further explains that the surfaces of these materials are covered in microscopic spikes that inhibit bacterial cells from attaching to and growing on them.
Ivanova has been working on ways to mimic this design for the past decade. "Basically what you see here is a unique mechanism developed by nature when the bacterial cells are... effectively rupturing the [bio]film," she says. She is trying to prevent the growth of bacterial colonies on surfaces that are easily polluted by mimicking the minute texture found in nature.
The characteristics of the microbe being eradicated will determine the required density and geometry of the pattern, as well as the method and materials for manufacturing it. Complex zigzag shapes, according to Ivanova, would work great as water and AC filters. Moreover, graphene sheets are extremely thin and have "sharp edges that could tear through the bacterial barrier and destroy it" (though these tiny razor blades are too minute to damage human skin).
Titanium and alloys titanium are the materials that interest her the most. These may be hydrothermally etched, a process in which the metal is essentially melted under high heat and pressure to generate a tiny sheet with sharp edges that may be effective against some forms of bacteria. Moreover, titanium dioxide generates antimicrobial reactive oxygen species upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation. For instance, this has been used to coat dental braces in an effort to decrease the growth of bacteria in certain locations. The quantity of live germs on these coatings can be reduced by a factor of 1,000 only by exposing them to commercial lighting for four hours.
Ivanova says, "No special treatment using chemical agents or antibiotics will be required to be effective on these surfaces."
Viruses are smaller than bacteria, therefore it will take a high degree of accuracy to create surfaces that can stop them. However, biophysicist Vladimir Baulin from Spain's Universitat Rovira I Virgili thinks the same methods may be applied to viruses like coronavirus. Nanopillars, microscopic structures with a pillar shape that can be artificially created on a surface, could be used as a trap for the virus particles. This could be useful for collecting viral particles, which would then be used to create diagnostics and vaccinations. Mask filters, for example, might use a surface pattern with nanoprotrusions to physically break through the virus's outermost coat.
Alejandra Ponce, a chemical engineer from the Universidad Nacional de Mar del Plata in Argentina, claims that "there is abundant proof of the usefulness of essential oils as antibacterial and antiviral" compounds. Let's consider tea tree oil, the aromatic compound that has sparked the creation of a slew of new cosmetic lines. Researchers have found that "tea tree oil aerosol shows substantial antiviral effect and is capable of inactivating model viruses with the efficiency of more than 95% within 5-15 minutes of exposure," as reported by Ponce.
When tested against Staphylococcus aureus, cork was found to have very strong antibacterial properties. Moreover, hops extracts have been utilized to develop plastic-like coverings that can inhibit the growth of some germs.
The use of antimicrobial plant extracts in coating applications is still mostly theoretical, although researchers are making progress. Some plant materials may have the potential to be used as antimicrobial coatings, but much more research is needed to determine the optimal concentrations of active chemicals and the specific types of bacteria that would be killed.
In general, though, the uses for these types of surfaces are vast. Baulin explains the mechanism's extensive applicability by noting its "universal nature." A wide variety of substrates are suitable for its use.
Despite this, Mengying Ren, policy officer at the Swedish network ReAct - Action on Antibiotic Resistance, cautions that we must not grow overly reliant on this method. "Regardless of how good the technologies are, we will still need to consider the basics at the healthcare facilities," she says. These include things like healthcare staffing, cleaners, hygiene and IPC facilities, vaccination coverage and capacity, and so on. This is not something that can be fixed quickly.
Maintenance of antimicrobial surfaces might be especially challenging in low-income nations due to unreliable access to running water. If a surface is covered in nanospikes, for example, it may be necessary to remove trash and any dead microorganisms on a regular basis. Yet, according to Ivanova, "pathogenic cells' detritus [detach away from the surfaces]" of titanium and titanium alloys, basically rendering them self-cleaning. To reduce its reactivity, copper should be polished to prevent further oxidation.
The "potential for resistance development from surface coatings like silver or copper or surfaces" is a major issue for Ren and her coworkers, but Larrouy-Maumus is optimistic that bacteria will not evolve resistance to copper in the future because they haven't in the last 3,000 years.
In conclusion, Finding commercial partners and expanding the use of these technologies will, in any case, take time. It's possible to find preexisting examples. Sharklet is a type of plastic sheeting that has been designed to seem like sharkskin, even down to the antimicrobial diamond pattern. Catheters and other medical devices that potentially introduce microorganisms into the body already employ this. In addition, the MicroShield 360 covering has been used to disinfect and sterilize aircraft interiors, including seats.
Some 3D printers have even reached a resolution of a few nanometers, which means that one day you could be able to print a design that inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms right in your living room.
The use of these surfaces has the potential to be a game-changer in the fight against the spread of illness and the occurrence of future pandemics.
As the globe fights to contain the spread of Covid-19, antimicrobial resistance has become an even more pressing concern. Patients are at high risk of developing secondary infections from bacteria they acquire in hospitals; one study found that half of the patients who died at a Chinese hospital from Covid-19 were infected with another disease. Patients with coronavirus are often prescribed antibiotics, even though these medications have little effect on the virus itself, fueling concerns that the virus is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
That brings us to the conclusion. I want to express my gratitude to you for taking the time to read this post, and I pray that God will richly reward you.
Ro, Christine. “The Surfaces That Kill Bacteria and Viruses.” The Surfaces That Kill Bacteria and Viruses - BBC Future, 1 June 2020, www.bbc.com/future/article/20200529-the-surfaces-that-kill-bacteria-and-viruses.
Querido, Micaela Machado, et al. “Self-Disinfecting Surfaces and Infection Control - PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), 16 Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7127218.
Jaggessar, Alka, et al. “Bio-Mimicking Nano and Micro-Structured Surface Fabrication for Antibacterial Properties in Medical Implants - PMC.” PubMed Central (PMC), 2 Oct. 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5625685.