Permanent antimicrobial coating for materials and textiles

Permanent antimicrobial coating for materials and textiles

Technology Description

A non-leaching contact biocide antimicrobial coating that can be applied to materials and textiles to make them permanently sterile and prevent bacterial growth. Examples of potential materials that could be coated inlcude wound dressings, personal hygiene products, clothing, packaging, furniture, construction materials and textiles. Antimicrobial coatings find particular use in wound dressings as the exudate from the wound contained in an absorptive wound dressing typically encourages the growth of bacteria, resulting in infections that compromise wound healing.

Commercially available poly(styrene-co-maleic anhydride) copolymers are synthetically modified to incorporate quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) in the backbone of the polymer. QACs are well known to have antimicrobial activity and in this case act as contact biocides whilst permanently fixed on the surface of materials and textiles.

Target Industries

  1. Medical and Healthcare sector
  2. Textile industry

Unique Features/Benefits

Materials and textiles coated with the resin become permanently antimicrobial

  • No leaching
  • Kills bacteria on contact
  • No loss of activity over time

Most antimicrobial coatings include antimicrobial agents that are not permanently bonded to the substrate and eventually leach from the coating or are released from it. Such coatings lose their efficacy over time and the microbes may develop resistance against the particular active agents. Antimicrobial wound dressings, for example, normally include low molar mass biocides or nanosilver that leach from the coating and affects bacterial growth in its immediate environment. Due to the mode of action and activity of biocides and nanosilver, antimicrobial efficacy is lost over time and cannot be regenerated. Moreover, the antimicrobial agents may in some instances have a toxic or harmful effect if concentrations are increased in an attempt to prolong efficacy. There is thus a need for an antimicrobial coating that may be permanently bonded to a substrate and which has the required antimicrobial activity to protect the substrate and surrounding environment from microbial infection, whilst retaining its antimicrobial activity for extended periods of time.

Innovation Status

A proof of concept was achieved where a commercial wound dressing was coated and the antimicrobial polymer fixed to the surface. Antimicrobial assays with gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria indicated complete reduction in the total number of colony forming units (CFUs) in a matter of hours.


Principal Researchers

Dr William Cloete

Prof Bert Klumperman

Available for licensing



Ian van Zyl


Registered IP