The Hindu - 22 Jun 2012

     Sankara Nethralaya eyes Japanese spray in its battle against microbes

M. Dinesh Varma
Says it is a safer, better and alcohol-free alternative

Sankara Nethralaya has turned to a Japanese aerosol spray derived from a natural compound that reins in air-borne infections by eliminating obdurate bacteria, viruses and fungi.

After year-long extensive tests carried out at its microbiology labs, the premier ophthalmic hospital now sees the anhydrous citric acid compound produced by the human body as a safer, better and alcohol-free alternative to regular sterilisation agents.

“We’ve been using the spray for over a year in our microbiology setting and it has proved to be a potent sterilisation agent that does not emit any odour or cause irritation,” says H.N. Madhavan, ocular microbiologist and president of Sankara Nethralaya’s Vision Research Foundation.

While disinfectants containing alcohol and halogen are widely used as surface and hand cleansers, sterilisation agents that can control air-borne pathogens offer relatively fewer choices and their levels of efficacy vary. Air disinfection using hydrogen peroxide and fumigation with potassium permanganate have been found to cause irritation to the eyes and nose while some are suspected to be carcinogens as well.

The compound which is available in powder form is mixed with water and the solution kept in a container that is plugged into a power socket. The vapour emitted can completely sterilise a room in about eight hours, says Dr. Madhavan.

The aerosol spray was designed by Japanese scientists Yamagi, Kubota et al. Its efficacy has triggered a growing body of medical literature in Japan and, most recently, was the theme of a paper presented at the International Conference on Communicable Diseases, Bangkok.

“In a way, the spray mimics the human biological defence response against pathogens,” says Samuel Abraham, faculty, Department of Surgery, Yamanashi University in Japan and principal author of the research paper tabled at the Bangkok meet.

Though the efficacy of the spray device, ‘Clinister’ marketed by the Indo-Japan joint venture Nichi Vision Life Sciences, is undisputed, Dr. Madhavan says he would like to test it against newer and more diverse infectious settings before advocating it over other sterilising agents across the hospital.

He stresses the fact that no matter how good hospital administrators think their sterilising agents are, it is imperative to run quality checks on pathogenic presence periodically in a hospital setting.

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•“It has proved to be a potent sterilisation agent that does not emit any odour”

•Doctors look to test it against newer and more diverse infectious settings