New technology creates 'super soap'

May 20, 2002

SALT LAKE CITY - May 20, 2002 -- Scientists have developed innovative soap technology that significantly reduces the attachment of bacteria to the skin. They report their findings today at the 102nd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.

The technology, known as Microbial Anti-attachment Technology (MAT) was developed by Dr. Shamim Ansari and colleagues at the Colgate-Palmolive Technology Center in Piscataway New Jersey.

"The clinical data demonstrate that fewer bacteria bind to hand skin after washing with this soap technology. Since bacteria survive for several hours on objects such as doorknobs, telephones, toys, etc., a technology that reduces the acquisition of bacteria by the skin would not only offer a consumer-relevant benefit but also would provide a new paradigm in germ control," says Dr. Shamim. Currently, this technology is available in Colgate's Protexâ Bar Soap throughout Latin America.

MAT is based on three commonly used cosmetic ingredients--petrolatum, dimethicone, and polyquaternium----that prevent bacteria from adhering to the skin. The researchers hypothesize that MAT ingredients deposit a thin film on the surface of the skin, blocking specific bacteria-binding sites and/or altering the surface properties of the skin.

The researchers tested MAT using Serratia marcescens, a bacterium that forms a distinctive red colony and is not normally found on the skin. In these studies, one hand was washed with a placebo or commercially available soap while the other with a soap-containing MAT. After drying, hands were contaminated by lightly pressing them against a plastic surface pre-coated with the marker bacteria. The bacteria transferred from the plate to the hands were recovered and quantified by standard microbiological methods. In three clinical studies, the bacteria attachment to the hands washed with the MAT-containing soap was reduced by a statistically significant 50-58% relative to the hands washed with placebo or commercial soaps.

Hand washing is the most effective way to prevent the spread of germs. Currently, there are two ways bar and liquid hand soaps control germs on skin. The first is through the combination of the detergent and the mechanical action of hand washing, which removes most organisms. The second is by including an antimicrobial agent in the cleanser to help suppress the re-growth of bacteria, not removed during washing, and also helps to suppress organisms that are acquired after washing.
This release is a summary of a presentation from the 102nd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, May 19-23, 2002, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Additional information on these and other presentations at the 102nd ASM General Meeting can be found online at or by contacting Jim Sliwa ( in the ASM Office of Communications. The phone number for the General Meeting Press Room is (801) 534-4720 and will be active from 10:00 a.m. MDT, May 19 until 12:00 noon MDT, May 23.

American Society for Microbiology

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