USD researchers recognized by CNN for '09 health innovation

VERMILLION, S.D. -- CNN has recognized two scientists from The University of South Dakota for their contribution to global health innovations for 2009.

Yuyu Sun, an associate professor in the biomedical engineering program at USD, and Zhengbing Cao, research associate; have been honored on CNN Health’s “Top 10 health innovations for 2009” for developing antimicrobial paint. It was featured as No. 7 on the CNN list, which may be viewed at www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/12/14/top.health.innovations.2009.

The two researchers with the Biomedical Engineering Program at USD have been working on a range of antimicrobial technologies for several years. Their initial research with Kevlar was created to protect individuals from exposure to biochemical hazards. Sun’s preliminary research findings were profiled in the American Chemical Society’s bi-weekly scientific journal Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research (Aug. 6, 2008), for developing a germ-killing molecule that can be added to cloth and Kevlar to create antimicrobial properties. N-halamine, a potent germ-fighting substance, can be added to paint helping hospitals fight “superbugs” that are said to kill an estimated 88,000 people each year in the United States.

“Compared to other agents we’ve worked with, (N-halamine) had all three components we were looking for,” explained Sun, Ph.D., during an August 2008 interview. Sun described acyclic N-halamine, a bleach-like substance, as powerful because of its ability to kill a wide range of infectious agents, including bacteria, viruses and even spores that cause anthrax; durable because the protection can last for months to years; and rechargeable because even if clothing is saturated by microbes, it can be recharged using a thorough bleach application.

“If a person is in a situation where there are hazardous materials,” Sun explained, “they don’t want a false sense of security. The acyclic N-halamine coating is long-lasting, can be easily re-applied and doesn’t alter the fabric’s comfort or strength.”

Hospitals or health care facilities applying the antimicrobial paint would need to clean the painted areas every one to two weeks but the germ-killing protection would last for more than a year. This patent-pending technology also has many other commercial applications and has been licensed to Antimicrobial Technologies Group (ATG), a South Dakota start-up company that will roll out a line of antimicrobial products later this year. A brief and amusing video highlighting athletic socks treated with N-halamine coating is on YouTube at www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5toOXpBcys&feature=player_embedded.

For more information about Sun’s dynamic research, including the August 2008 research profile in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research, visit www.usd.edu/press/news/news.cfm?nid=1380&uid=user.