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Permanently Sterile Surfaces 19

Posted by michael
from the putting-lysol-out-of-business dept.
dfinster writes: "Fox News is running this AP report that "A new germ-killing polymer can permanently sterilize countertops, doorknobs and even surgical equipment...""
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Permanently Sterile Surfaces

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    They have an absolutely inpenetrable immune system ... Called evolution. It is so effective that, in all probability, earth-developed germs have survived the trip to mars by NASA. If there was no life on mars, there is now. It is so effective that aids (granted, not a germ, but same defence) can adapt to certain medicines in a matter of hours, if patients are VERY lucky it takes them about 2 years. There a germs on earth that have an immune system sufficiently effective to survive space travel, and even the conditions on other planets. People who think about life coming from in space DO REALISE that they can only get through our athmosfere on an asteroid, AND THEY SURVIVED. We SHOULD use this material EXCLUSIVELY in medicine and ONLY if it is ABSOLUTELY necessary because, like all medicines, it is an effective treatment, which will only work for a limited time. If you want to waste it on doorknobs, I am also a victim of your shortsightedness, so defineately do not go ahead.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Quaternary ammonium compounds are widely employed in the food and beverage industries as sanitizers for equipment precisely because they have the same effect as the material described in this post. But these substances are not magic bullets. Solutions can be saturated or swamped by high numbers of bacteria, dissolving so many cell membrane components (destroying cell viability thereby) that they cannot be further effective. When this occurs the remedy is obviously to use a second or even a third application of the solution.

    I would suppose that the analogous situation with this new surface coating would require that the surface be thoroughly cleaned before effectiveness returns. There would be a progressive loss of the coating as a consequence of the cleaning, and thus some requirement for replenishment or replacement.

    If this is the case, then there is the problem of detecting when the surface coating is no longer killing the microorganisms efficiently. This would probably be outside the range of expertise of most people. But, in the case of surgical instruments, it would be a vital issue.

    My conclusion is that this coating is of use in depleting organisms only in cases where it is not consistently exposed to large numbers of cells. This reflects the questions raised concerning cleaning and detection of efficacy thereafter.
  • Hospitals are the *last* place that we want this. Right now the best place to find a resistant germ because of all the antibiotics used there. Why would we want to add to this mess?

    2nd, the point about trash in the street, etc. is a strawman. It has no bearing on what I'm discussing. The discussion is about introduction of antibiotics, not taking out garbage.
  • Don't need germs? Try an experiment. Take a newborn baby, and isolate it from a harmful germ, perhaps salmonella. Raise the child.

    Now, give that person an old hamburger. Watch them get deathly ill from that because their immune systems have never seen salmonella before. Compare that to the comparitively mild but non-life threatening reaction of vomiting that a person with a better immune system would have.

  • What's with all the hyper protection from germs that is built into every product? This is harmful in my opinion, for two reasons.

    -germs develop resistances. This includes bacteria, and probably chemical agents like this one. Evolution is slow, but persistent. If a resistance is possible, it will probably be developed. The result is tougher germs.

    -people need germs. Our immune systems are kept in shape by fighting germs. Even babies need to have some exposure to germs to develop a resistance to them. We should be exposing ourselves to appropriate levels of germs in order to allow our immune systems to recogize them as harmful agents.

    Oh well. If it appeases the anxieties of germ-phobiacs, then it will make money. Who cares about anything else.
  • -germs develop resistances. This includes bacteria, and probably chemical agents like this one. Evolution is slow, but persistent. If a resistance is possible, it will probably be developed. The result is tougher germs.

    This is why I shudder every time I see those anti-bacterial soaps in grocery stores. I call it 'genetic training'. These things don't really get rid of germs. They get rid of most of them. The ones that are left are quite possibly somewhat resistant to the antibiotic in the soap.

    Worse yet, you have mostly-sterile space in which these things can grow with little competition. (nature HATES a vacuum). After a couple hundred cycles like this, if there's any resistant mutation available, or possible in the set, it's likely to triumph in such an environment.

    Now that these germs have been effectively 'trained' to survive the antibiotic, if/when you actually need an antibiotic, it's effectiveness is going to be reduced or even negated. In our race to have a 'safe' world, we're generating a world in which our safety mechanisms are ineffective.

    The interesting thing is that there are some people who surmise that our race to generate a germ-free world is contributing to an increase in the incidence of asthma and alergies in children. The thought is that our immune system essentially gets 'bored' and reacts to whatever happens to be vailable. If that happens to generate an auto-immune response, that's just too bad.

    Given that we've grown up for millions of years in a completely non-sterile environment, the no - enemy - means - something's - wrong logic seems plausable to me.
    --

  • people need germs

    1. If people don't swallow these checmically-coated surfaces, they'll be okay. 2. People need specific kinds of germs-- the rest of them can die and we won't care. 3. These surface won't magically kill every single germ, so important germs aren't going to be in any more danger than they are from boiling water or bleach cleaning solutions.
    --

  • I found the story at the AP, but I couldn't find a direct link that worked there. (frame-hell)

    I can't find a better article, but I'd love to read more. Anyone have more info?
  • by Alik (81811) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @01:22AM (#207290)
    1. Yeah, the hygeine theory does suggest that killing off too many bugs is a bad idea, and yes, you do need normal flora. That's not what this is for. This is for, as one poster has suggested, surgical equipment and cutting boards and other things likely to be vectors of infection. (Hint: doctors' office doorknobs.)

    2. No, 94% isn't entirely sterile. However, look at it this way: when I take a sterile metal scalpel and start operating on you, with the first cut, that scalpel comes away loaded with skin germs, which are then spreadable to the deep tissue layer. (We'll ignore the cause of cauterizing scalpels for now.) Right now, part of the way we fight this is constantly irrigating the incision with a diluted antibiotic solution. Having the knife itself contribute would be nice.

    3. Yes, bacteria develop resistance. However, they develop resistance to antibiotics that try to get into their metabolism and screw it up (essentially selective poisons). To the best of my knowledge, no bug is resistant to having its membranes chemically lysed. We can't use that kind of reaction for an internal antibiotic, because it'll also destroy normal tissue. However, when you're already cutting the tissue, you really don't care if a few more cells get popped.
  • by R.Caley (126968) on Tuesday May 22, 2001 @04:24AM (#207291)
    This action is a chemical reaction that probably would not allow the bacteria to develop a resistance, such as happens with antibiotics.

    Bacteria have evolved to live in fission reactors and in other such homely environments, you we are to imagine they won't be able to cope with plastic.

    Er, yeah, right.
    _O_

  • by TheLink (130905) on Monday May 21, 2001 @08:28PM (#207292) Journal
    "On the glass slides treated with hexyl-PVP, 94 percent to 99 percent of the Staphylococcus organisms were killed. For Pseudomonas and E-coli, the kill rate was consistently at 99 percent."

    94% doesn't meet my standards for "permanently sterile surfaces". Even 99%, but maybe that's because of measurement limits.

    After all this is bacteria we are talking about. Proper use of antibiotics = 100% kill rate (either patient dies or all the targeted bacteria die ;) ).

    I'd also like to see the effects of that surface when a bacterial slime is placed on it. Bacteria in slime are much harder to kill. You need to break down the slime to get to them.

    Given enough food and moisture the 6% left (94% killed) might form a slime, and then other bacteria don't even need to touch the coating at all.

    I wonder about fungi too :).

    The stuff might be useful to reduce the amount of bacteria, but calling it "sterile" is misleading.

    Cheerio,
    Link.
  • There is a prevaling theory in immunlogy that dirt is good. Thats right folks- dirt, and especially germs, are good. Remember that mud pie you had as a kid? Odds are that it helped "educate" your immune system. A perfectly sterile environement (or very sterile, as would be created by this type of surface) would result in a decreased exposure to both pathogenic (rare), and MOSTLY non pathogenic bacteria. Without these types of immune challenges, we are more likley to develop autoimmune disorders such as allergy, multiple sclerosis and rhumatoid arthritis. Unfortunatly, it seems that if our immune system has nothing to attack, it attacks us.

    Aside from this, any attempt to wipe out biological organisms, especially bacteria, results in the development of resistance. ALWAYS.

    So the real question is not is this a neat polymer, but will we use it responibly? It has GREAT applications for surgical surfaces, but aside from that it is extreme overkill. Just like all those antibacterial soaps. Will I use them after I culture bacteria? YES. Will I use them if I were to perform surgery? YES. Would I use them after putsying in the garden or before I eat? NO! Regular soap works just fine. I don't need to kill all the bacteria that NATURALLY live on my hands. Its overkill, and look how the media, the marketing companies are selling this stuff: Lysol kills 99% of germs dead! Guess what? We don't live in a sterile environement, and getting this "clean" will just leave you with a messed up immune system. Damn, if it were up to some of the moms that have bought in to this unnatural "clean-freakishness-sanitary-nazism" some kids would be living in bubbles. I'm sure the marketing freaks at lysol are drueling at the thought of this product in spray cans..............

  • This stuff works by destroying cell membranes of bacteria.

    Would it have the same effect on people?

    --

  • One possible problem with a widespread application of this material could be that some people might develop an allergic reaction to it. Of course, the substance probably (will go|is going) through trials to examine this possibility.
  • This is pretty cool, now instead of spray and wipe it will be just, well, wipe!

    It says that . This action is a chemical reaction that probably would not allow the bacteria to develop a resistance, such as happens with antibiotics but, what happens if they DO start to resist it. If you ask me its like Humans and Guns. When first made, anyone who had them was God-Like. But Now we humans have developed a FORM of resistance to the humble bullet (kevlar jackets etc) so while being cool and magic and space age, im not so sure if it such an amazingly good idea if we completly chuck away all the methods used for sterilization before this Miracle Polymer was invented "Passsion Rules Reason" - Wizards Third Rule

  • This action is a chemical reaction that probably would not allow the bacteria to develop a resistance, such as happens with antibiotics.

  • The top few layers of your skin are dead and more or less desicated.
  • It is a little frivolous but aren't the best ideas. I few ideas I had were: -cutting boards for kitchens instead of haveing twenty types of boards there could be one -needles or sugical equipment manufactured 'laced' with the polymer. -operating tables , resteraunt counters and floors, door knobs to public bathrooms anything that could benafit from a more sterile enviorment.
  • 94% doesn't meet my standards for "permanently sterile surfaces". Even 99%, but maybe that's because of measurement limits. After all this is bacteria we are talking about. Proper use of antibiotics = 100% kill rate (either patient dies or all the targeted bacteria die ;) ).

    actually, the clinical definition of "sterile" doesn't always mean zero microbes. why? because a small concentration of bacteria can be successfully fought off by the immune system. so proper use of antibiotics doesn't mean 100% kill rate by the antibiotic -- it just means knocking off enough of the little buggers to that the body can take care of the rest.

    hobbes

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