From fighting werewolves to bacteria, silver might be the weapon of choice.
It’s been used for thousands of years to heal and protect, and now, it’s making a comeback with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Cary company PurThread is harnessing the element’s power to develop fabrics with silver embedded in fiber that puts an end to bacteria and viruses.
It sounds simple, but it is highly effective.
A recent study from the University of Arizona found PurThread’s silver-embedded fabrics killed 99.99 percent of the seven top hospital pathogens, such as MRSA and E. coli, within four hours.
PurThread Chief Executive Lisa Grimes says the company’s first priority is to make hospitals a safer place.
“We’ve actually had a hospital publish a study on our privacy curtains and prove that our curtains lasted up to eight times longer without having infections on the curtains in a real-world setting,” Grimes said.
With those kind of results, how would PurThread fibers stack up against the Ebola virus?
Dr. Russell Greenfield, PurThread’s medical director, says it hasn’t been able to do that kind of testing yet.
“One day, we hope to be able to put our product and our technology up against the virus and see what it might show, but we’re nowhere near that right now,” Greenfield said.
PurThread is waiting for approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency before it can legally make certain claims about its product.
What the firm can say is that its technology protects textile products from microbial contamination and reduces odor-causing bacteria, mold, mildew and fungus.
The applications are endless.
“We’re looking at things, like shopping bags, linens,” Greenfield said. “We’re looking at undergarments, at athletic equipment. We’re looking at military uses. There could be significant applications there.”
One military application could be battling trench foot, which occurs from prolonged exposure to damp and unsanitary conditions.
“Having a sock that would hopefully keep the sock protected from growing bacteria or fungus or viruses would be helpful,” Grimes said.
While PurThread is awaiting EPA approval, it plans to launch products next year that claim to stay fresh and odor-free. That includes the socks Grimes mentioned, pet blankets, athletic gear and shopping bags.