May 17, 2020

New plasma flashlight can kill bacteria and germs

plasma flashlight
3 min
The new plasma flashlight can destroy germs
An innovative health gadget, which comes in the form of a torch, can reportedly destroy germs and bacteria, according to news agency AFP. The ‘pl...

An innovative health gadget, which comes in the form of a torch, can reportedly destroy germs and bacteria, according to news agency AFP.

The ‘plasma flashlight’, as it officially known, was developed by a team of researchers based in China, Australia and Hong Kong.

They believe it would be a perfect tool for healthcare workers that are positioned in danger zones, such as wars, conflicts and disaster areas, who have limited access to medications.

It works by emitting a charged, ionised stream of gas which kills germs and infections.

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Although similar products are available – for example, hot plasma sterilisers – such devices are expensive to run because of their large size, which is often similar to a refrigerator.

Hot plasma sterilisers all need an external power supply to work in addition to a constant supply of gas.

However, with the revolutionary new plasma flashlight a gas supply is not required and it is able to operate from just a 12 volt battery.

Although blasting with a stream of gas may sound an extreme treatment, it apparently causes no damage to the skin.

The inspiration behind the flashlight was to create a healthcare device that is able to eliminate germs and bacteria without the need for water and drugs.

This is why the creators of the plasma flashlight feel it an ideal setting for it to operate in would be in the aftermath of natural disasters and conflicts.

AFP reports that the flashlight has been tested on a type of germ that is resistant to antibiotics and heat treatments.

Enterococcus faecalis is often responsible for causing infections in patients following dental surgery.

Commenting on the device, Ken Ostrikov, from the Plasma Nanoscience Centre in Australia, said: “In this study, we chose an extreme example to demonstrate that the plasma flashlight can be very effective even at room temperature.

“For individual bacteria, the inactivation time could be just tens of seconds."

He added that the flashlight could cost as little as $100 to manufacture.

However, despite the promising results, the researchers are apparently none the wiser as to why the jet of gas mimics the effect of antibiotics and other antibacterial treatments.

They believe one explanation would be that the plasma and surrounding surface react in such a way that oxygen molecules are created – which bacteria is particularly vulnerable to.

More information on the plasma flashlight has been published in the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.

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Jun 18, 2021

Skin Analytics wins NHSX award for AI skin cancer tool 

2 min
Skin Analytics uses AI to detect skin cancer and will be deployed across the NHS to ease patient backlogs

An artificial intelligence-driven tool that identifies skin cancers has received an award from NHSX, the NHS England and Department of Health and Social Care's initiative to bring technology into the UK's national health system. 

NHSX has granted the Artificial Intelligence in Health and Care Award to DERM, an AI solution that can identify 11 types of skin lesion. 

Developed by Skin Analytics, DERM analyses images of skin lesions using algorithms. Within primary care, Skin Analytics will be used as an additional tool to help doctors with their decision making. 

In secondary care, it enables AI telehealth hubs to support dermatologists with triage, directing patients to the right next step. This will help speed up diagnosis, and patients with benign skin lesions can be identified earlier, redirecting them away from dermatology departments that are at full capacity due to the COVID-19 backlog. 

Cancer Research has called the impact of the pandemic on cancer services "devastating", with a 42% drop in the number of people starting cancer treatment after screening. 

DERM is already in use at University Hospitals Birmingham and Mid and South Essex Health & Care Partnership, where it has led to a significant reduction in unnecessary referrals to hospital.

Now NHSX have granted it the Phase 4 AI in Health and Care Award, making DERM available to clinicians across the country. Overall this award makes £140 million available over four years to accelerate the use of artificial intelligence technologies which meet the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan.

Dr Lucy Thomas, Consultant Dermatologist at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, said: “Skin Analytics’ receipt of this award is great news for the NHS and dermatology departments. It will allow us to gather real-world data to demonstrate the benefits of AI on patient pathways and workforce challenges. 

"Like many services, dermatology has severe backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This award couldn't have come at a better time to aid recovery and give us more time with the patients most in need of our help.”

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