(02:05) Sue introduces Ross Walker to the podcast. Ross describes himself as Director of Clinical Health Technologies, which manufacture products based on a high purity of hypochlorous solution; this has been in the human market with the Clinisept brand, and is now moving into the animal sector with the Contego brand via Nextmune.
(02:52) Sue asks Ross how he got into working with hypochlorous acid. Ross says having worked in London and then wanting to change, he was approached to work in the field of producing a highly stabilised hypochlorous acid.
(03:35) Sue asks what hypochlorous acid is and Ross describes it as the most effective disinfectant agent known to man, but is also completely skin compatible to any mammals- so it kills things you want to get rid of without doing any harm to humans or animals.
(04:12) Sue asks how this works, and why it isn't a concern that it has the word acid in it. Ross says this is because it is an acid with a skin neutral pH, so it is non-irritant, non-sensitising and non-cytotoxic. He says it originates in our body in order to deal with invading organisms, through the process of phagocytosis - the blood cells in our body produce low concentrations and low quantities of hypochlorous.
(05:37) John ponders what the catch is and why this isn’t already widely used in the human sector and more generally. Ross describes hypochlorous Archilles’ heel - describing the first discovery of hypochlorous occurring during the first world war in 1915, where when soldiers had severe wounds as well as having been exposed to chlorine gas, it was discovered that they healed much quicker than those who had had the severe wounds without the exposure to chlorine gas. This was found to be due to the chlorine forming a solution in the water within the trenches, and this forming a level of cleanliness. The soldiers exposed to the chlorine gas we're also found to have high levels of cleanliness within the wounds. The papers published at the time concluded three things: firstly that hypochlorous was a very effective disinfectant, being bactericidal, fungicidal, viricidal and sporicidal. Secondly that it had a skin neutral pH, so therefore was contributing bacterial resistance without causing skin trauma. And thirdly, that this contributed to the perfect environment for skin healing, maintaining cleanliness without causing tissue trauma.
(08:19) Sue asks the difference between this and hypochlorite (bleach). Ross says that the two are derived from the chlorine chemistry, but that hypochlorite or bleach, is far more skin irritant, as many with no not wanting to have bleach on the skin. But that it is actually also much less effective in killing bacteria then hypochlorous. Ross demonstrates this by saying that an examination of a bottle of bleach would show a very high parts per million concentration, because hypochlorite has to be in very high concentrations in order to be effective; whereas hypochlorous can be in a much lower concentration in order to achieve the same level of efficacy.
Chapter 2: Why isn’t it being used in people?
(09:51) John asks again whether this is something that is available on the human market and Ross confirms that over the years the number of companies have bought this product in the market, and much research has been done. However, it never achieves its potential because of the Achilles heel mentioned previously. Hypochlorous has a half life of 48 hours, meaning if you manufacture it you need do something with it quickly before it starts to decay; this is due to its manufacture, which in 1915 was by electrolysis – passing an electric current through a saline solution and generating a quantity of hypochlorous from the anode. This method of manufacture has remained since 1915 until recently, when a new method that Ross uses came in (using a chemical method to manufacturer it). Stabilising techniques used on the electrolysis method, have always produced a low level of concentration, a low level of stability and a low level of purity. Ross says their method pulls the rug from under these Achilles’ heels, providing a shelf life of two years, as well as a high level of stability and of concentration - in excess of 90% hypochlorous in comparison to the previous iterations of around 60%
(12:13) Sue asks about the applications being used in the human field already. Ross shares that they initially needed to verify the efficacy of their version of hypochlorous, and so they compiled a study involving ear piercing, with the largest manufacturer of ear piercings and the largest ear-piercing company, and have pierced in excess of 20 million ears using their version of hypochlorous as the after-care. During that time they have had zero reports of infection following the piercing, and that it has enabled the manufacturer to halve the healing time from six weeks, down to 3 weeks. They then launched in the aesthetic sector, so it is used in the cosmetic industry and following the launch in June 2017 it had (by December 17) been given the 'Product of the Year' award in that sector. They have also since gone on to work in the podiatry sector as well as the dental sector with a mouth rinse - in all of these instances the product is doing exactly the same thing, maintaining cleanliness without damaging the tissue and therefore improving skin healing time. Ross adds that it has applications in venous and diabetic leg ulcers, where it is very effective due to its efficacy on removing biofilms.
Chapter 3: How can it help animals?
(15:13) John asked whether this is safe to use in animals as well as people, and what species. And Ross confirms that it is safe to use in all mammals, so including small animals and large animals such as livestock and horses. John goes on to ask the application in these animals and Ross says this application is very widespread, not simply for wound healing applications but also for instances of skin contamination, eczema and dermatitis.
(16:28) Sue asks what papers have been published in the human field to demonstrate the efficacy of hypochlorous against things like yeast, staphylococcus and pseudomonas. Ross says a Wikipedia search will reveal approximately 3,500 papers published on the efficacy of the substance in disinfectant in these instances - and Ross says many papers have been published to prove its efficacy in European Normative standards. Hypochlorous uses an oxidising method of action to dissolve cell walls make it very quick in its effect, rather than those using a toxic method which is slower and can result in resistance as well as sometimes being toxic to the skin in too higher concentrations.
(18:27) Sue clarifies that this includes Malassezia, staphylococcus and pseudomonas and Ross confirms these are well within the capabilities of hypochlorous to kill these within 15 seconds.
(18:41) John asks about its effect with pus and cases of biofilm, with Ross saying it is very effective in these instances, crucially dissolving biofilm film as well as killing it. This means that with repeated application you can quickly remove the biofilm from the surface. Ross points out the physical action of rinsing is also beneficial to wash away the biofilm whilst also dissolving it, and Sue agrees that the resistant nature of biofilm contributes to the chance of resistance, and so disinfectant is a great benefit here. Ross confirms and points out a low level of infection can contribute to a biofilm which will delay healing and that there are many papers published in biofilm application for hypochlorous.
Chapter 3: Where does it fit with existing products?
(22:25) Sue asks about the development of the use of topical therapy in treating bacterial overgrowth and infection on the skin, and whether hypochlorous could be used in a similar way to chlorhexidine in this application. Ross says that not only could it be used in this way, but it would do a much better job. Stating that chlorhexidine uses the aforementioned toxic method for killing bacteria, but this can also have some toxicity with the skin and slow skin healing in a way that hypochlorous doesn’t. He also states there are growing number of plastic surgeons who are no longer prescribing routine antibiotics post-surgery when using hypochlorous, because they are so confident that it will prevent an infection from ever establishing!
(24:20) Sue asks about the possibility of hypochlorous being available as a shampoo rather than just a spray, because of the useful nature of a shampoo regardless of what is in it. Ross points out that the nature of hypochlorous means that it does not respond well to being mixed with other chemistry and so could never be formulated, as such there will always be a place for chlorhexidine-based formulations such as shampoos. Sue says that this therefore gives us a great choice for skin care and Ross echoes this.
(25:46) John asks how environmentally friendly hypochlorous is and Ross shares that hypochlorous has been given a category five by the environmental protection agency on their toxicity scale, which is the highest classification for environmental safety. Ross says that the nature of hypochlorous action, means that it uses up its efficacy as it decontaminates, so as it pours down the drain you will have a very clean first few metres of drain but by the time it makes it into the waterways it is benign.
(26:50) Sue summarises what we have learnt on the podcast and Ross agrees, saying it very quickly garnered the nickname 'game changer' when first launched. John asks how people may get hold of this and Ross says this is available over the counter via Nextmune to the animal industry.
John and Sue wrap up another insightful episode, with some musings of times gone by when hypochlorous acid might have been useful to the podcast panel.
A pilot study comparing in vitro efficacy of topical preparations against veterinary pathogens.
Uri, M. Buckley, L. Marriage, L. McEwan, N. Schmidt, V. (2016). Veterinary Dermatology. 27 (34), 152.
Antimicrobial efficacy of a very stable hypochlorous acid formula compared with other antiseptics used in treating wounds: in-vitro study on micro-organisms with or without biofilm
Herruzo, R. Herruzo, I. Journal of Hospital Infection June 2020 105(2):289-294
Antibiofilm Efficacy of Polihexanide, Octenidine and Sodium Hypochlorite/Hypochlorous Acid Based Wound Irrigation Solutions against Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and a Multispecies Biofilm Anne-Marie Salisbury, Marc Mullin, Rui Chen, Steven L. Percival 26 June 2021 pp 1-15 Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Wound cleansing: benefits of hypochlorous acid.
Joachim D, Journal of wound care [J Wound Care 2020 Oct 01; Vol. 29 (Sup10a), pp. S4-S8;
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