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Research project: Portable direct light microscopy to assess microbial contamination of hospital surfaces and equipment and the effectiveness of routine decontamination techniques - Dormant - Dormant

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This project involved the further development of a novel direct light microscopy technique (episcopic differential interference contrast microscopy, EDIC) for the assessment of surface cleanliness. This patented direct microscopy technique allows surfaces and equipment in the healthcare environment to be assessed directly for level of microbial contamination without the need for microbiological swabbing and culture of microorganisms in a laboratory.

It is essential to rapidly identify bioburden and specific pathogens in the healthcare environment in order to minimise the risk of exposure of patients to healthcare associated infections.

We have pioneered and patented a novel direct light microscope which is capable (in bright field mode) of instantaneously visualising microbes on surfaces such as food, surgical instruments and a variety of materials used as contact surfaces (e.g. stainless steel, plastics, vinyl, metals, clothing). The unique optics of the microscope also permit examination of fluorescently stained material, such as bacteria or proteins on surfaces, even those which are highly convoluted or curved, following addition of specific fluorescent reagents. These allow determination of species specificity and also viability. In Phase 1 of this study, we demonstrated the suitability of the laboratory prototype microscope to detect viable and non-viable MRSA, C. difficile and A. baumannii on a range of contact surfaces found within the healthcare environment.

Project team

Dr Jacqui Prieto
Prof Bill Keevil, School of Biological Sciences, University of Southampton
Dr Eric Best, Best Scientific

Project funder

NIHR Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation
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