Novel project looks at wound infections

01 July 2012

Prof Tom Elliott

Prof Tom Elliott

Research has begun at the Trust to examine new ways of reducing the risk of patients being infected by microbes which normally live on their skin.

The work will look at how an iodine incise drape, a special form of dressing for wounds, behaves when applied to skin, and involves researchers at the University of Aston and University of Huddersfield.

Principal Investigator Professor Tom Elliott says the research is extremely exciting and continues a long-running programme designed to study novel ways of reducing levels of potentially infectious microbes on the skin.

“Many hospital-acquired infections occur because we cannot sterilise the skin. Even with good hand hygiene, we cannot reach the thousands of microbes below the skin surface in the hair follicles and sweat glands,” he said.

“Now with this very exciting study we will not only be looking at the effect of iodine on microbes on the skin surface but we will also be sectioning the skin to determine how the iodine can penetrate to the lower layers.”

The study will use skin which has been donated by patients who have undergone a particular type of plastic surgery called an abdominoplasty.

The skin has been stored in the Trust’s tissue bank and is being used after a thorough process to ensure patient consent and confidentiality.

The trial will involve researchers including Clinical Research Scientist Dr Anna Casey and Clinical Research Nurse Dr Tarja Karpanen, who will also be testing the ability of different applications of iodine to kill MRSA bacteria which has been applied to the skin.

“We want to understand how iodine penetrates human skin, to move us one step closer towards our goal of being able to sterilise the skin,” said Professor Elliott.

The research is being sponsored by 3M Germany and involves close cooperation with Professor Barbara Conway at the University of Huddersfield and Professor Peter Lambert and Senior Lecturer Tony Worthington at the University of Aston.