PETALING JAYA: Hartalega Holdings Bhd has developed the world's first non-leaching antimicrobial nitrile examination glove, which it aims to launch early next year. The nitrile glove manufacturer said in a statement that the new product was jointly developed with UK-based antimicrobial research and development specialists Chemical Intelligence Ltd. The patented technology represents a world-first process for incorporating antimicrobial activity in medical examination gloves during the manufacturing process. "Once again demonstrating Hartalega's passion for innovation, this is a game-changer that is set to elevate Malaysia's glove manufacturing industry and have potentially far-reaching effects on the global healthcare sector. Traditionally, medical examination gloves are a passive barrier to reduce the risks of transmission of infection in healthcare settings. With this state-of-the-art technology, we are able to develop gloves that provide active protection," said Hartalega managing director Kuan Mun Leong. "We have successfully conducted production trials and further clinical studies are planned to quantitate the benefits of using antimicrobial medical examination gloves in clinical settings. We are scheduled to launch in the market in early 2018," he added. Tests of the efficacy of the antimicrobial medical examination gloves against important viruses and fungi that cause infections are underway. Hartalega said the antimicrobial medical examination gloves can provide an additional layer of protection against hospital-acquired infections. Hospital-acquired infections are frequently transmitted to patients by the hands of healthcare practitioners, as contamination can occur when taking a patient's pulse, blood pressure, or temperature, or from contact with surfaces near patients. On an annual basis, hospital-acquired infections affect about two million hospital patients in the US, resulting in 90,000 deaths and additional costs of US$28 billion to US$45 billion while in the European Union, hospital-acquired infections affect 4.1 million patients per year, resulting in 37,000 deaths and additional costs of 7 billion euros. Hartalega said its new product will be attractive to hospitals and other users such as residential care homes because of the potential to reduce hospital acquired infections arising from contamination of the gloved hands of healthcare workers, patients and/or near-patient touch surfaces. The stock closed 4 sen or 4.8% higher at RM8.70 on Friday, with some 5.54 million shares changing hands.