A Contribution to Laboratory Hygiene

Educational microscopes that pass through many hands are potential breeding grounds for germs. To solve this problem, Leica Microsystems and SANITIZED AG in Burgdorf, Switzerland have designed AgTreat™ – an antimicrobial coating technique using the active substance silver for the leica educational microscopes.

What harmful bacteria does AgTreat™ protect against?

The AgTreat™ coating protects users from a large number of bacteria types. We examine the particularly relevant germs in our laboratory. Some of them are hospital germs like the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which is resistant to certain antibiotics and is a particular risk for antibiotic patients whose own immune system is incapacitated. A temperature of about 37°C is ideal for MRSA to multiply and eventually paralyze the complete organism. However, we’re also talking about food-relevant germs such as Escherichia coli bacteria which mainly populate the intestinal tract but can lead to dangerous infections elsewhere. Food can also often contain  salmonella, which cause serious diarrhoeal diseases.

How do you test the erfficacy of the AgTreat™ coating on Leica microscopes?

The surface we are testing is seeded, i.e. brought into contact with, a liquid containing bacteria. The liquid is covered with a film to create an evenly distributed layer. This is then incubated for a day under ideal growth conditions for bacteria at 37°C storage  temperature and at least 90 per cent relative humidity. After 24 hours, the counting procedure is begun to see how many of the original number of about 100,000 germs have survived this test.

What result did you get for the AgTreat™?

On an untreated sample there are about a million germs after a 24-hour incubation period. On a treated sample, we ideally only find a fraction of the germs that were put there. In the case of the leica DM500 und DM750 with the AgTreat™ coating, we found that germs had been reduced by between 90 and 99.9 per cent.

How high do you rate the importance of the antimicrobial function of AgTreat™ for school and university microscopes?

Being young and active, students are usually in contact with a large number of people – not only at university, but also in their free time. This means that any germs they encounter could multiply very rapidly. The danger is when germs are passed on to people whose immune system is temporarily or permanently weakened in some way. Large groups of people with different physical conditions and hygienic requirements are always a potential risk in this respect.

Please click here to read the <media 39133 DM500/Application%20Notes/AgTreat_Education_en.pdf external-link-new-window>complete interview</media> with Christoph Fankhauser, Customer Support SANITIZED AG

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