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2011 Call for projects in the field of viral safety for biological products
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Selected projects 2009

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Evaluation of cold atmospheric plasma to decontaminate surgical instrument surfaces and eliminate prion infectivity

PIs : C. W. Keevil and R. Hervé - School of Biological Sciences, Environmental Healthcare Unit University of Southampton - UK, M. G. Kong - Loughborough University, UK, J-P. Deslys and E. Comoy - Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique, DSV/IMETI/SEPIA, Fontenay-aux-Roses - France

Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are fatal neurodegenerative diseases generally believed to be transmitted simply by the absorption or ingestion of self-aggregating protease-resistant prion proteins (PrPSc), which are particularly resilient to classic methods of decontamination used in healthcare facilities (enzymatic washing and steam sterilization). With the emergence of the so-called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD), an acquired TSE with a relatively long asymptomatic incubation period, there is a need to develop new techniques for the decontamination of reusable surgical instruments to prevent the spreading of the disease through surgical interventions on apparently healthy individuals unknowingly carrying the infectious agent.

Cold atmospheric plasma (CAP) is a new technology which achieved satisfying levels of decontamination in preliminary evaluations. To further assess the efficacy of this technology, we plan to use a very sensitive microscopy technique to assess the amount of residual PrPSc and other proteins remaining after CAP treatment. We will also use a well established animal model to evaluate to what extent CAP treatment can reduce the infectivity potentially present on the contaminated surfaces of surgical instruments. It is hoped that CAP treatment will reduce significantly the risk of transmission of PrPSc during surgery.
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