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The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

Research project: Antimicrobial copper: Biocidal efficacy and killing mechanism of copper and copper alloy dry surfaces against bacterial and viral pathogens

Currently Active: 
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Touch surfaces are an important conduit for transmission of bacteria, viruses and fungi, leading to mass outbreaks of disease in the community and healthcare acquired infections by multiple antibiotic resistant microorganisms causing great morbidity and mortality.

The antimicrobial properties of copper were known since Antiquity and copper alloys became commonplace for water storage and transmission through pipes and taps, food preparation surfaces and contact surfaces in buildings. Coincident with their replacement by contemporary materials such as stainless steel and plastic has been the dramatic rise in infections through contamination of contact surfaces in the community and healthcare. This project utilises advanced surface microscopy imaging and molecular biology techniques to elucidate the mechanisms by which copper can kill microorganisms, generate reactive oxygen species to degrade nucleic acids and prevent horizontal gene transfer of antibiotic resistance to emerging pathogens on contact surfaces.

Related research groups

Environmental Biosciences
Molecular and Cellular Biosciences
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