This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to develop a novel antimicrobial compound to provide active infection control to textiles that will be applied as a finishing treatment. Each year, 5-10% of individuals admitted to U.S. hospitals acquire an infection during treatment. Consequences of these infections include prolonged hospital stays, increased pain and discomfort, and even death. The added healthcare costs total billions of dollars annually. The number of hospital-acquired infections is increasing, with a larger proportion caused by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Laboratory and clinical studies have shown that bacteria can survive for weeks on items found in hospital patient rooms. Creating surfaces that are continuously biocidal will provide new methods of infection control, augmenting current practices without significantly adding to the workload of healthcare workers. In this project, the technology is intended for use on fabrics. The end product may also be applied to non-textile items (e.g., keyboards and bedrails). This Phase I project seeks to develop a finishing treatment to create textiles that kill microbes on contact. Because the biocide will be chemically attached to the fabric, migration of the antimicrobial agent into the environment will be minimized. During this research, we will attach biocides to common fabrics. Physical and microbiological characterization of the resulting fabrics will be performed.
The performance of these compounds is expected to exceed currently available technologies. It is expected that strategic deployment of this technology as a complement to hand-hygiene will lead to a reduction in hospital-acquired infections. Other commercial textile applications include protective garments for military personnel and emergency responders, and fabrics for sports apparel.