A study into a major cause of hospital acquired infections (HAI) has begun. The work is exploring how contagion bacteria survive even deep cleans with chemical products and is evaluating a novel approach to reduce HAI through the use of probiotic hard surface cleaners.
The collaboration between Genesis Biosciences and the University of Huddersfield has received funding from the National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) and will examine infection-causing dry biofilms and assess the efficacy of preventative probiotic cleansers.
Although historically high, HAI have witnessed a significant increase over the past year due to Covid-19 and represent an unrelenting and urgent threat to the NHS.
Despite regular and thorough cleaning, potentially infectious organisms can survive on hard surfaces within healthcare facilities by forming a dry biofilm which acts as a barrier between infectious microorganisms and sanitising agents as well as forming a reservoir for surface reinfection.
The concerted research project between Cardiff-based Genesis Biosciences and the University of Huddersfield’s Microbial Therapeutics and Infection Control Centre will investigate the form and function of biofilms by creating synthetic dry biofilms similar to those found in hospitals. Researchers will then examine how effective probiotic cleaners, like those created by Genesis, prevent dry biofilms from forming onto a surface and whether the probiotic cleaners can decrease both biofilm coverage and pathogen surface loads.
Genesis Biosciences has invested millions of pounds and years of research to develop products that contain natural beneficial microbes which can reach deep into surfaces, potentially eliminating harmful bacteria and offering long lasting cleaning results. In recent hospital trials carried out using Bacillus based probiotics in Italy, a simple swap out of traditional chemical cleaners with probiotic variants reduced the numbers of organisms detected on surfaces, resulting in a 52 per cent reduction in HAI and 75 per cent reduction in costs associated with the prescribing of antibiotics.
Genesis Biosciences General Manager Emma Saunders said: “Microbial pathogens that cause HAIs can survive on surfaces for long periods of time which obviously increases the risk of cross-contamination through indirect contact with the patient.
“There is evidence that probiotic cleansers can reduce both surface bound pathogens and antimicrobial resistance (AMR) genes in the environment, and help to build an active biofilm of beneficial bacteria on the application surface – therefore preventing the re-establishment of harmful organisms and prolonging cleaning efficacy.
“This study is very exciting and once we confirm the effectiveness of the probiotic solutions over their corrosive and toxic chemical counterparts, this new way of cleaning can be rolled out across healthcare facilities across the country, minimising hospital acquired infections and potentially saving lives.”
The joint project ultimately aims to extend the knowledge base and understanding of dry biofilm structures and the genetic aspects of their existence whilst providing a robust test method for surface cleanser developers to better assess the viability of their products in this demanding area.