Study: Northwell’s anti-pathogen UV tech is A-OK

Feeling blue: But feeling better, with a new Northwell health-backed UV-light tech said to eliminate better than 97 percent of pathogens in hospital settings.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

A New York City startup backed by Northwell Health’s new business-development division may be on the verge of eliminating infectious pathogens from hospitals.

An ultraviolet disinfection technology deployed by biotech startup PurpleSun – officially, the “focused multivactor ultraviolet device” – dramatically lowers the risk of hospital-acquired infections by eliminating 97.7 percent of pathogens in operating rooms, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

The study – by lead author Donna Armellino, a registered nurse and Northwell Health’s vice president of infection prevention, alongside a host of co-authors – determined that PurpleSun’s UV-light platform outperformed other disinfection tools, including chemicals, by reaching “multiple surfaces in seconds” and “all but eliminat[ing] human and product error in the proliferation (of) pathogens,” according to Northwell Health.

Donna Armellino: Light touch.

Armellino’s study included contributions from researchers at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine and from PurpleSun chief scientist Wladyslaw Kowalski, a recognized global leader in the fields of ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and hospital-disinfection technologies.

The Northwell Ventures spinoff is a flagship venture of True North Enterprises, which was christened late in 2018 as the New Hyde Park-based health system’s new business arm. True North Enterprises oversees about $200 million in annual revenue – including operations of innovation-promoting Northwell Ventures and other entrepreneurial health-system efforts – and is focused on the development of, and investment in, new products, services and technologies.

Hitting all three of those marks is PurpleSun, which emits 90-second UV bursts that cover equipment and all surfaces from multiple angles.

Billed by Northwell Health as “the first to use five-point multisided sampling in testing the effect of UV disinfection technology,” Armellino’s observational study considered more than 3,000 microbiological samples collected after 100 different surgical cases at three different Greater New York hospitals, including New Hyde Park’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

The results, according to Armellino: Chemical disinfectants aren’t finished yet, but UV-cleansing can be used to “optimize environmental cleanliness.”

“Ultraviolet light technology will not replace manual cleaning and disinfection with chemicals, but it has a place in healthcare settings,” the lead author said. “This technology can … result in decreased pathogens that could potentially cause infection.”

More on the study is available here.