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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

MRSA breakthrough

Published: 11 July 2009

MRSA breakthrough

A groundbreaking detection system which can spot superbugs in hospitals is being developed by scientists at the University of Southampton.

Using a specially designed optical device, researchers are able to examine medical equipment and surfaces for signs of MRSA, C. difficile and other infections.

It is estimated that superbug infections cost the NHS more than £1 billion a year, according to the National Audit Office.

"It is currently very difficult to spot superbugs in hospitals, and because of that they are tough to eradicate and costly to the NHS," explains Bill Keevil, Professor of Environmental Healthcare at the University's School of Biological Sciences. "This new technology is making the process of detecting bacteria much easier and more efficient."

Professor Keevil is working with colleagues from the University's Schools of Biological Sciences and Health Sciences and a commercial business, Best Scientific, a company which designs and builds optical and microscopic equipment. They now plan to develop the system into a portable detection kit for easy use by hospital staff.

Dr Jacqui Prieto, a researcher in infection prevention at the School of Health Sciences, said: "The development of a portable direct light microscope for use in the NHS will revolutionise the assessment of hospital cleanliness. This will make a major contribution to our understanding of the role of the environment in the spread of infection."

"We will be using all available current technologies and techniques, including innovations in image recognition and LCD illumination along with powerful industrial lenses, to produce the best possible images," said Best Scientific Managing Director Dr Eric Best. 'This is vital for scientists and researchers as it gives a complete picture of the material under examination."

It is currently very difficult to spot superbugs in hospitals, and because of that they are tough and costly to eradicate. This new [microscope] technology is making the process of detecting bacteria much easier and more efficient.

Professor Bill Keevil - Professor of Environmental Healthcare, School of Biological Sciences

Notes for editors

Best Scientific is an established provider of optical solutions to a diversity of markets, specialising in microscopy, metrology, machine vision, and life sciences. The company was awarded £65,000 by the Small Business Research Initiative for a feasibility study into the technology. For more information about Best Scientific visit: http://www.bestscientificweb.com/.

 

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