Fatal superbugs that have contributed to the deaths of patients and to outbreaks in Irish hospitals face a new enemy in the form of an award-winning antimicrobial solution.
DIT Grangegorman start-up company Kastus has won a Knowledge Transfer Ireland award, which recognises the achievements of higher-education institutes and publicly funded research organisations in Ireland. The company won the award for its solution, which chief executive John Browne says will kill MRSA, Ecoli, fungus associated with athlete’s foot, and CRE (carbapenem-resistant enterobacteriaceae).
According to Browne, it will kill the “dirty dozen” superbugs listed last month by the World Health Organisation (WHO) including three families of bacteria the WHO describes as of critical importance: acinetobacter, pseudomonas and various enterobacteriaceae, which includes CRE. These can cause bloodstream infections and pneumonia and pose a major risk in hospitals and nursing homes. The WHO list also includes high- and medium-priority drug-resistant bacteria that cause diseases such as gonorrhoea and food poisoning caused by salmonella.
The solution can be used to protect surfaces like smartphones, door handles, toilets, sinks, ceramic floor and wall tiles, glass, metals, ATMs, TVs, handrails, lifts, fridges, microwaves, as well as plastics and paint. The company is currently in negotiations with ceramics companies manufacturing sanitary ceramics.
“Our technology is factory applied,” said Mr Browne. The coating is sprayed into the product and then baked into it in the manufacturing process, forming a super hard surface which is permanent and transparent. The product – sink, urinal, ATM – is then permanently free from superbugs, he said.
In December last year, Kastus received a €1.5 million investment from the Atlantic Bridge University Fund. The company is also supported by Singapore-based investor syndicate Carragh Holdings and by Enterprise Ireland. The firm was involved in a recent Enterprise Ireland trade trip to the Middle East. Kastus is currently taking on more staff.