It Kills E. coli On Contact!

It’s every food preparer’s dream come true: a germ-killing polymer coating with the ability to make any surface—from the metal of a knife blade to the plastic of a serving bowl—permanently sterile. And who do we have to thank for this miracle of modern science? A research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) headed by Joerg C. Tiller.

News of the advancement came with the recent release of a clinical study appearing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in which Tiller and his colleagues reported on laboratory tests that showed the coating, called hexyl-PVP, was able to kill up to 99 percent of the common disease-causing organisms Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas and E. coli.

According to Tiller, the hexyl-PVP polymer kills bacteria by destroying the outer membrane of the microbe—a chemical reaction that would not allow the bacteria to develop resistance, as occurs with antibiotics. The coated surfaces would then only require periodic washing to remove dead bacteria.

Unfortunately, this innovative product is still in the development stage. So, while researchers believe the bug-destroying polymer could be applied as part of the manufacturing process, they are not as yet involved in any effort to bring the germ-killing technology to the market. Keep your fingers crossed!

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