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System for assessing antiviral effectiveness of textiles
Mar '10
Researchers at the Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology (IHB), part of the Hohenstein Institute in Bönnigheim, have developed the world's first system for assessing the efficacy of textiles and articles in everyday use against viruses. With the help of a new procedure to test antiviral effectiveness, more targeted work can now be carried out to develop products treated in this way, optimising them to meet market requirements.

For over 14 years now, the IHB, which is accredited by DAP (German Accreditation System for Testing) and ZLG (Central Authority of the German Länder for Health Protection Regarding Medicinal Products and Medical Devices), has specialised in testing the antibacterial effect of textiles for compliance with various international standards. The Hygiene Department is now able to test the antimicrobial effectiveness not only of flexible materials (textiles and fibres) but also of liquids and solids, i.e. all kinds of products from varnish, paint and plaster coatings to plasticised and metallic surfaces.

According to reports from the World Health Organisation, the WHO, viruses have been gaining ground for over 30 years. Every year, they are joined by new viruses (such as the swine flu virus A/H1N1), or else known viruses (noroviruses/rotaviruses) are found to be responsible for specific illnesses. In order to break the chain of infection, in certain public places products are given an antiviral treatment, for example roller towels in the toilets at public facilities, or articles used in hospitals. Although viruses do not have their own metabolism and cannot reproduce outside of the host cells, many scientific studies have shown that viruses, just like bacteria or fungi, can be transmitted via clothing and utensils. The aim of antiviral treatments is therefore to make the virus particles inactive, so that they no longer pose a risk of infection.

The technical principles on which researchers into the antiviral effectiveness of textiles and everyday articles base their work are international standards such as DIN EN ISO 20743 (modified to apply to testing antiviral textiles) and ISO 22196 (modified to apply to testing textile surfaces and products in everyday use). The virus chosen to use in testing for the effectiveness of treated textiles and surfaces was the harmless virus MS2, an apathogenic bacteriophage. Because of its particle structure and its environmental stability and disinfectability, this surrogate virus is similar to clinically relevant non-enveloped viruses. It is therefore suitable for using as a test virus for, for example, norovirus, polio, hepatitis A, enteroviruses etc. (caliciviruses and picornaviruses).

As well as antiviral treatments, everyday items are increasingly also being given antimicrobial treatments, to give long-term protection against being taken over by bacteria. The idea is that harmful bacteria and fungi should be killed where they pose a danger, either to prevent

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