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The University of Southampton
Global Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention

Multidisciplinary team from Southampton wins £817k NIHR CCF PRP grant

Published: 19 January 2018
Debakey forceps. Amyloid proteins (stained blue) in grooves on the worn surface. (100µm per inch)

A multidisciplinary team from Southampton University have won an £817k grant to pilot the deployment of StarStream ultrasonic cleaning devices in the Sterile Services Departments (SSDs) of several NHS hospitals across the UK.

The team (Professor Bill Keevil, Dr Rod Hervé and Dr Tom Secker from FNES; and Professor Timothy Leighton from ISVR) is particularly interested in studying contamination of surgical instruments by vCJD. The PI, Professor Bill Keevil, who has a distinguished career in vCJD detection and decontamination, says:


“The misfolded infectious proteins, or ‘prions’, that cause vCJD have a very sticky nature and high affinity to stainless steel, the metal most prominently used in the manufacture of surgical instruments. Furthermore, the prion proteins have a high resistance to heat and many commercial decontamination procedures and cleaning chemistries. The ability of these proteins to pass from person to person via surgical devices has been documented both in the clinical and research environment. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated from a recent archived appendix samples study that 1/2000 people in the UK carry this misfolded protein, although some will never succumb to disease or show symptoms.”


This collaboration also works closely with the Network for Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) at the University of Southampton in which they will disseminate the progress of this research through scientific meetings and outreach events.


NIHR Team interdisciplinary
The interdisciplinary team

I am delighted to have the opportunity for the interdisciplinary collaboration to combine the expertise of FNES and ISVR to trial the StarStream device to replace the manual scrubbing of surgical instruments that is currently used in Sterile Service Departments. Inclusion of the novel disinfectant, which we helped a local Romsey company to patent, will also kill superbugs and biofilms which have been associated with outbreaks of disease following surgery, particularly following endoscopy procedures

Professor Bill Keevil - Director, Environmental Healthcare Unit, Natural and Environmental Sciences, University of Southampton
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