The combined system works to detect and eliminate airborne pathogens

A new air-filtering system developed by the University of Glasgow and Pinpoint Medical aims to detect and eliminate airborne pathogens to combat the spread of infections in hospitals.

Funded by the UK Research and Innovations’ (UKRI) Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the platform will decontaminate the air of pathogens and measure air quality to ensure a safer and healthier environment.

The simple-to-use system is ideal for operating theatres and designed to target superbugs, bacterial infections, virus-based diseases and spores carrying fungal infections.

Every year, airborne infections that spread between hospital patients, staff and visitors cost the NHS billions of pounds.

The current monitoring and control of these infections are laborious, time-consuming and limited in their effectiveness, requiring testing swabs from surfaces and equipment, and wiping them down with disinfectant.

The new system will have an advanced air-contamination system devised by Pinpoint using an innovative diagnostic technique developed at the University of Glasgow.

Based on nanopatterned plasmonic consumables, which are manufactured in a similar way to blu-rays, the system allows testing for pathogens at more affordable costs with minimal staff time requirements.

Pinpoint is currently combining the biosensor platform with the air sampling mechanism using unique porous ceramic filters that perform photocatalysis under ultraviolet light.

The system could potentially be up and running within two to three years and could begin to be deployed in hospitals within five years.

Dr Andrew Bourne, executive director, partnerships, EPSRC, said: “This system promises to be a real game-changer as a diagnostic tool.

“By making integrated surveillance and elimination of airborne pathogens practical and cost-effective, it could transform the fight against hospital infections…, limit the spread of future pandemics and even detect their emergence.”

Dr Affar Karimullah, University of Glasgow’s School of Chemistry, and chief technology officer, Pinpoint Medical, said: “As well as hospitals, the combined monitoring/filtration system could be deployed on planes and in all kinds of public hotspots where airborne infections spread easily.”