New processes use ozone and viruses to kill harmful bacteria
By Ben Coxworth
December 13, 2011
According to Dr. Dick Zoutman of Queen's University in Canada, over 100,000 people die every year in North America alone, due to hospital-acquired infections. It would only seem to follow that hospitals need to be kept cleaner, and Zoutman has developed something that he says can do the job - an ozone and hydrogen peroxide vapor gas. Some bacteria are particularly tenacious, however, and that's where Dr. Udi Qimron of Tel Aviv University comes into the picture. He has developed a liquid solution in which viruses are used to make antibiotic-resistant bacteria once again vulnerable to traditional cleansers.
Dr. Zoutman's bacteria-killing gas incorporates a proprietary form of ozone, and is pumped into spaces such as operating rooms, where it sterilizes every surface within less than one hour. It is reportedly far more effective than wiping the room down with a disinfectant, by hand. The principle, in fact, is the same as that used by the human body - antibodies create ozone and hydrogen peroxide, in order to kill germs.
The Queen's treatment is said to leave the room with a pleasant smell, and doesn't adversely affect medical equipment. The technology is currently being commercialized by Medizone International, with deliveries expected to begin in the first quarter of next year.
Dr. Qimron's liquid utilizes bacteriophages, which are viruses that infect bacteria. These particular bacteriophages have been genetically engineered, to alter the genetic make-up of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. More specifically, these alterations restore a gene within the super-bacteria's ribosome, which the bacteria lose in the process of becoming antibiotic-resistant. Certain antibiotics target and bind to this gene, known as rpsL - when the bacteria adapt to the antibiotics and lose the rpsL, the antibiotics can't bind to them, but when the bacteriophages restore it, the antibiotics are back in binding action.
Once it has been further tested for safety at Tel Aviv University, the non-toxic solution could be used in conjunction with regular antibiotic cleansers, in a bucket or spray bottle. It is estimated that one liter (33.8 oz) of the liquid should cost only a few dollars.