In Texas, a $115,000 set of wheels with UV lightbulbs attached to it is being used to disinfect the hospital room where the first ebola patient was quarantined. Aptly named “Little Moe”, the robot can produce pulses of ultraviolet light 25,000 times brighter than the sun to destroy the DNA that causes the virus to mutate and spread.
Xenex, the San Antonio-based company responsible for the light-emitting device that looks much like a futuristic Tesla coil, has already managed to get Little Moe in over 250 hospitals in North America. If they are successful at fully-sanitizing rooms in 5 minutes, like they claim, this could become a new requirement in all hospitals around the world. Diseases like MRSA and c.diff, which are known to kill patients in hospitals, could become a thing of the past.
In this short video, learn more about the four ways PX-UV causes cellular damage:
The science, according to Xenex:
Using a variety of methods, high-energy ultraviolet light in the area of the spectrum known as UV-C is produced by either mercury or xenon gas lamps. This UV-C energy passes through the cell walls of bacteria, viruses and bacterial spores. Once the UV-C energy is inside the microorganism, it is absorbed by the DNA, RNA and proteins. One of the primary mechanisms of damage created by UV-C is the fusing of the strands of DNA creating what is known as “thymine dimers.” Once the DNA is fused, the organism can no longer replicate and is, therefore, no longer infectious. The technical term for this is “deactivation.” Optimal wavelengths vary for UV-C disinfection of different organisms. On average, wavelengths of 260-265 nm are where peak DNA absorption occurs. For E. coli, 265 nm is about 15% more germicidally effective than 253.7 nm. For B. subtilis, 270 nm is about 40% more germicidally effective than 253.7 nm.
Healthcare associated infections (HAIs) are the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. and millions of people suffer unnecessarily every year as a result of an infection they acquired in the hospital. Xenex’s mission is to save lives and reduce suffering by eliminating the deadly microorganisms that cause HAIs. Considering they’ve only been on the market since 2010, Xenex seems to be growing rather rapidly and as International travel continues, it can be assumed that more deadly viruses will continue to make their way to areas not normally infected. We can only hope that new practices in decontamination can help ensure the safety of people by preventing the spread of diseases with little to no cure.