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Hexyl-PVP Kills Germs, Bacteria On Contact

Paraphrased by Steve Waldrop

Researchers say that a new polymer coating known as HexyL-PVP could be applied to keyboards, telephones, children's toys, door knobs and numerous other items, is capable of killing most of the common bacteria that cause serious infections.

The coating depends on a non-chemical action to kill the germs. Basically, the polymer carries a permanent positive charge. This is undetectable and harmless for humans, but at a microscopic level, it's like taking a seat in an electric chair. The charge is enough to rupture the bacteria walls and their inner membranes.

Researchers are claiming that Hexyl-PVP can kill up to 99 percent of dangerous microbes such as Staphylococcus, E. coli and Pseudomonas.

At stake for the bacteria is not only their lives, but the infections they spread by hanging around on frequently used surfaces like telephones, door knobe and bathroom taps.

Joerg Tiller of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology stated that "You could coat any type of surface with this material, and it would be there permanently. It is chemically attached so that it cannot be washed away." The polymer could also guard against infections commonly spread by sneezes and dirty hands.

Tiller said that in order to test the polymer for toxicity, the researchers put mouse cells on a coated surface. He said, "the mouse cells grew, but this is only the first test. As long as the polymer remains attached to a surface, it should not be toxic" to humans.

The anti-bacterial coating could be incorporated into the manufacturing process so that the surface of many products could be permanently sterile,Tiller said. And he continued to say that the surfaces would require periodic washing to remove dead bacteria that float out of the air and land on the killing surface.

"And the best thing is," according to Tiller, "you could coat people with it directly, to discourage the spread of nosocomial infections and whatnot. I myself got coated eleven months age, and haven't been sick yet!"

There are no current plans by MIT to bring the Hexyl-PVP coating to the market.