Researchers at the University of Birmingham have developed a new antimicrobial coating to fight against the spread of hospital-acquired infections.

The coating for steel surfaces has been proven to destroy bacteria that are responsible for causing certain common infections.

Called as NitroPep, the antimicrobial coating is patented by the University of Birmingham Enterprise.

The product will be made available to the market by a new company named NitroPep.

NitroPep chief scientific officer Dr Felicity de Cogan said: “One of the biggest public health issues across the world continues to be the spread of infection and contamination from bacterial, viral and insect-borne diseases.

“Despite increased sterilisation and education campaigns, hospital-acquired infections have not been eradicated and the accumulation of bacteria on frequently touched surfaces is key in the transmission of infection.

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“Therefore, our priority must be to research, develop and implement safe and effective prevention techniques and technologies.

“Our successful clinical study shows that our non-toxic coating could be used on regularly handled steel surfaces, such as toilet flush handles, bed rails and metal medical equipment, across healthcare, education and other industrial and leisure settings helping to create safer and healthier environments.”

During a clinical study, researchers coated NitroPep on steel surfaces on board a Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship.

The coated surfaces were put through regular daily cleaning regimes and tested on a weekly basis during the at-sea period of 11 months.

Results showed the coating to be effective against Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus epidermidis, Enterococcus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli. These five bacteria are the main cause of hospital-acquired infections.

The coating was also able to kill bacteria in as quickly as 45 minutes.

NitroPep managing director Graeme Forster said: “There is a clear and urgent need to prevent the transmission and spread of infection in the built environment, not just in the UK but globally.

“NitroPep is a novel, cost-effective, and cutting-edge technology for bonding antimicrobial actives onto various surfaces which we believe is the future solution to a global problem.”