A simple paper towel could step up the fight against MRSA and other hospital-acquired infections. The towel’s surface-sterilising coating – stored in microcapsules – prevents the growth of MRSA and, in some cases, kills the bug outright. Invented by Zone Innovation at Coventry University’s Technology Park, the towel has already sparked interest among three NHS Trusts.
The paper towel would drastically improve hand hygiene in hospitals, Zone Innovation director Ken Banks said. ‘Standard paper towels are a breeding ground for bugs – they are still wet when you throw them away and the warm, moist environment causes these germs to spread,’ he said. ‘When you dry your hands using our towel, the anti-microbial coating effectively destroys the MRSA bacteria.’
The company is also working on an aerosol that could kill germs. ‘It’s a similar principle to the paper towel – the micro-capsules which contain the sterilising solution don’t break until they are touched,’ Mr Banks said. ‘As with the towel, a perfume is freed on contact, and the spray does the rest. It is stronger and longer-lasting than existing aerosols.’
Mr Banks signed up to Coventry University’s business start-up programme Vision Works to help his company’s research and development phase. ‘Probably the biggest plus from Vision Works has been having my own business mentor to bounce ideas off,’ he said. ‘Without the University’s support, and the flexibility that it’s given me to try out different things, we wouldn’t be where we are now.’
Zone Innovation has also linked up with the University of Wolverhampton, University of Manchester and Warwick Science Park companies Healthtec and Medilink in the trialling and testing of their products. Regional development agency Advantage West Midlands has supported the development.