Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have created nanoscale coating for surgical equipment, hospital walls, and other surfaces that safely and effectively kills methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) — the bacteria responsible for antibiotic resistant infections and a huge thorn in the side of the healthcare community.

This breakthrough is based on naturally occurring bacteria-killing enzymes that can be added to paint or other materials. When MRSA comes into contact with this special coating, it dies, preventing further spread of the bacteria.

The new antimicrobial coating differs from others in that it is toxic only to MRSA, does not rely on antibiotics, leach into the environment, or become clogged over time. It can be washed repeatedly without losing effectiveness and has a dry storage shelf life of up to 6 months.

In an article published in the July issue of ACS NANO, 100% of MRSA in a solution were killed within 20 minutes of contact with a surface painted with latex paint laced with the antimicrobial coating.

The authors say it’s a selective agent that can be used in a wide range of environments, including paints, coating, medical instruments, door knobs, and surgical masks.