Disinfectant harmless to humans could be latest weapon against hospital superbugs
Scientists said Akwaton was non-irritable, odourless and effective at 'low concentrations'



13:50 GMT, 8 August 2012

A disinfectant that is harmless to humans but deadly to superbugs is poised to become the latest weapon against hospital infections.

The germ-destroying product called Akwaton, works at low concentrations according to a study from the Universit de Saint-Boniface in Canada.

Researchers tested the compound against bacterial spores of Clostridium difficile that attach to surfaces and are difficult to destroy.

Cleaning: Bacteria found in hospitals can survive on surfaces for long periods of time

Cleaning: Bacteria found in hospitals can survive on surfaces for long periods of time

Previous work by the group has shown Akwaton is also effective at low concentrations against strains of MRSA and E coli.

Spore-forming bacteria including C. difficile and MRSA can survive on surfaces for long periods of time.

Spores are heat-tolerant and can continue for a number of years in a dehydrated state before they are reactivated. Most chemical disinfectants control or prevent spore growth rather than irreversibly destroying them.

The latest study showed that Akwaton was able to destroy Bacillus subtilis bacterial spores, suspended in water and attached to stainless steel or glass surfaces, at concentrations well below one per cent after just 90 seconds' treatment. It was equally as effective at more dilute concentrations (below 0.1 per cent) if left to act for longer periods.

Lead researcher Dr Mathias Oul, explained the advantages over other chemical compounds currently used against bacterial spores.

'Most disinfectants have to be applied at much higher concentrations – typically between 4-10 per cent – to properly get rid of bacterial spores.

'Unfortunately such high levels of these compounds may also be harmful to humans and other animals. Akwaton is non-corrosive, non-irritable, odourless and is effective at very low concentrations,' he said.

'Bacterial spores demonstrate a remarkable resistance to physical and chemical agents as well as ordinary antiseptics. On top of this micro-organisms are becoming increasingly resistant to disinfectants as well as antibiotics.

'Our latest study shows Akwaton is effective at destroying these spores as well as bacteria that are known problems in healthcare environments.'

The product is produced by Fofaton Akwaton International, which is based in South Africa.

The study is reported online in the Journal of Medical Microbiology.