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Fiber Technology Designed to Limit Hospital Acquired Infections

By Karen Bitz-McIntyre, editor | October 11, 2012

PurThread features intrinsic antimicrobial protection

A development-stage company is offering a proven antimicrobial technology to make surgical privacy curtains bacteria resistant, cutting down on hospital acquired infections, a problem that is responsible for 100,000 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. This technology, intrinsic to the fiber, has been developed by PurThread, a Durham, N.C. company founded by former head of Foss Manufacturing, Steve Foss. Beyond medical applications, the technology has potential in consumer, military and industrial applications.
This week, a study proving the efficacy of the technology was published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology. This first-of-its-kind study was conducted by the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. It found that standard control curtains were eight times more likely to be contaminated with the superbug vancomycin resistant enterrococus (VRE) than experimental PurThread privacy curtains, which only had one positive VRE culture during the entire study. Additionally, the median time to first contamination of PurThread curtains took seven times longer than control curtains. On average it took only two days for control curtains to become contaminated with potentially pathogenic bacteria, while PurThread curtains withstood contamination an average of 14 days.
“From the beginning, our goal was not just to come up with another attempt at a palpable treatment but instead to develop something that is intrinsic to the fibers,” said Bill O'Neill, vice president of clinical operations, PurThread. “Whatever the product is, we want to develop a long-term solution.”
In total the University of Iowa study evaluated the privacy curtains in 30 rooms that admitted many patients with active infections (21 surgical intensive care units (ICU) rooms and nine medical ICUs). Fifteen rooms were randomly selected to have a new, standard curtain installed, while the remainder were fitted with experimental PurThread curtains, identical in look and feel.  All 30 curtains were swabbed to collect samples for culturing twice a week for four weeks.
“The study demonstrates PurThread’s commitment to the highest standards of scientific rigour and clinical integrity as it develops this promising new technology,” said Kathryn Bowsher, vice president of clinical and regulatory strategy at PurThread Technologies. “The contamination variation, in this study, between PurThread experimental curtains and control curtains shows the antimicrobial materials being developed by PurThread can have a measurable and meaningful impact in a clinical setting. The scientific literature shows that a cleaner patient environment contributes to a reduction in the transmission of healthcare associated pathogens, and this study strengthens our efforts to develop medical textiles that reduce bioburden contamination and contribute to a more hygienic patient environment.”

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