What is tAK Technology

What is tAK Technology

The research which led to the creation of tAK technology began over 10 years ago at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in the UK. At the time there was a significant concern about the emergence of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (vCJD) and its potential for spread through contaminated surgical instruments. vCJD can be transmitted via proteinaceous infectious particles, better known as prions. These prions adhere very well to stainless steel and are therefore very hard to remove in washing processes.

Scientists working at the HPA experimented with an enzyme known as thermostable Adenylate Kinase (abbreviated to tAK), which is isolated from organisms which can be found naturally around the very hot volcanic springs at the bottom of the ocean. tAK is a very robust and stable enzyme and was found to behave very much like prions do when coated onto a surface i.e. very difficult to remove from the surface. The research team then developed this technology into a form that could be used to test the washing efficacy of washer disinfectors in hospitals’ sterile services departments. The basic idea is that, if one could measure the degree of removal of tAK from a test strip, then one would be able to measure the washing efficacy of a wash process.

Research is continuing at the HPA (Now Public Health England) into other ways of using similar enzymes as indicators for other disinfection and sterilisation processes where the inactivation of the enzyme correlates with microbial kill.