State-of-the-Art Mobile Infection Control Technology Aiming to Make Air Quality Safer for Immunocompromised Patients

Aspergillus is a genus of some 200 highly airborne molds, some of which can be deadly, especially to immunocompromised patients. Consider that incidence rates of invasive aspergillosis have been reported as high as 26 percent in allogenic bone marrow transplant patients and 25 percent in acute leukemia patients. And in these immunocompromised patients who are infected by airborne aspergillosis spores, the scientific literature reports that death occurs in as many as 9 out of 10 of these patients.1

“In a hospital setting, construction work that liberates large amounts of Aspergillus spores is the major source of nosocomial aspergillosis,” says Ludwig Aho-Glélé, MD, who heads the Hospital Hygiene and Epidemiology Unit at Dijon (France) Hospital. “Given that we were about to commence a major long-term construction project right next door to high-risk clinical units such as our adult and pediatric hematology wards, we needed to be extra diligent in preventing liberation of these spores that are the source of potentially lethal nosocomial aspergillosis.”

Traditional mechanical high efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) air filtration, with or without laminar airflow ventilation, does reduce airborne fungal contamination and the incidence of invasive aspergillosis in a hospital setting. But the cost often precludes large-scale utilization.

Denis Caillot, MD,head of clinical hematology, turned to AirInSpace, which owns a patented core technology, HEPA-MD™ —the next generation of its initial Plasmer™ platform — that is designed to inactivate lethal airborne microorganisms. Developed initially for use in Russia’s MIR space station, the AirInSpace technology is in routine use today on the International Space Station (ISS). AirInSpace owns exclusive rights to this one-of-a-kind technology, which shows up to 99.999 percent single-pass inactivation of airborne microorganisms.

Under the guidance of Caillot and Aho-Glélé, Dijon Hospital conducted a 13-month pre-construction study to determine if the AirInSpace Plasmair mobile unit could indeed reduce the incidence of indoor fungal contamination in high-risk hospital rooms. Results of the study, “The use of Plasmair air-decontamination units for the prevention of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in neutropenic patients,” were published in the Journal of Hospital Infection.2

“Our study found that the mobile Plasmair units may provide a new approach to air-treatment in the hospital setting,” explains Aho-Glélé. “Plasmair units were effective in reducing fungal contamination in both the adult and pediatric hematology units over a long period of time.” Aho-Glélé continues, “My job, of course, is to prevent nosocomial infection in the hospital. We found that Plasmair is an effective device that reduced contamination by aspergillosis. Therefore we can now say that our hospital is safer as a direct result of using the AirInSpace Plasmair device. It is effective, and it is mobile, so we can place it wherever we want in the hospital. In fact we have 40 units here throughout Dijon Hospital.”

AirInSpace’s flagship product is the mobile air-decontamination called unit Plasmair. Its performance has been clinically proven to rapidly lower airborne biological loads and is now being used to combat hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) in high-risk areas of more than 100 hospitals and clinics throughout France, including hematology wards, intensive care units (ICUs), and operating theaters.

Traditional mechanical High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters are the most common airborne decontamination method used in hospitals, but they don’t inactivate the pathogens they trap and can serve as a reservoir that promotes their growth, leading to more pathogens released into the air to pose a lethal risk to patients, staff and maintenance personnel. New regulations are being imposed to control airborne contamination levels, requiring hospitals to undertake massive renovations to upgrade their ventilation systems. Alternatively, hospitals are finding unprecedented success with deployment of Plasmair units.

A second clinical study (“Evaluation of a new mobile system for protecting immune-suppressed patients against airborne contamination”) published in the American Journal of Infection Control concluded that “...the (AirInSpace) unit can be used to quickly convert standard hospital rooms into areas that can host immune-suppressed patients without the need for major building renovations. Furthermore, destruction of the microorganisms within the (AirInSpace) unit also eliminates the risk posed by mechanical HEPA filter systems concerning the growth and release of airborne microorganisms.”3 The study’s investigation sites included two Paris sites, Hôpital Saint-Antoine and Hôpital Necker; and Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Rennes, (France).

“Invasive aspergillosis is an extremely deadly nosocomial infection for immune-suppressed hospital patients,” says Laurent Fullana, chief executive officer of AirInSpace. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports a mortality rate of 95 percent in immune-suppressed patients who receive allogeneic bone marrow transplants and patients with aplastic anemia. These patients need a highly protective environment. The Dijon study demonstrates that our mobile system can effectively contribute to protect these patients. It’s important to note that the PlasmairT2006 has been cleared as a Class II medical device. This means assurance of effectiveness and safety based on a thorough risk analysis in the design phase, good manufacturing practices, validated labeling and claims filed with the FDA, and post-market surveillance — all of which are not required and therefore typically not done for most appliances used as air purifiers.”

“Providing immunocompromised patients with protection against airborne contamination used to require expensive and high-maintenance facilities,” says Vance Bergeron, PhD, chief scientific officer of AirInSpace. “The Dijon study demonstrates that we can offer hospitals a self-contained mobile unit as a cost-effective alternative for establishing an unthreatened environment.”

“I am always very concerned about nosocomial infection,” Aho-Glélé comments. “Under rigorous testing, Plasmair has proven to me that we are doing everything we can by incorporating Plasmair into our standard infection control protocol.” U.S. hospitals will have the opportunity to rent the PlasmairT2006 by AirInSpace mobile unit with HEPA-MD through Hill-Rom. Hill-Rom will also provide local field technical service for the product, according to AirInSpace officials. 

References

1. The use of Plasmair air-decontamination units for the prevention of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in neutropenic patients, J Hosp Infection. 2007:65;156-162.

2. Ibid

3. Poirot JL, etal. Evaluation of a new mobile system for protecting immune-suppressed patients against airborne contamination. Am J Infect Control. Sept. 2007. 35:460-6

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