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U-M Gets $2M to Study Xenex Robots’ Ability to Sanitize Hospitals

Xconomy Texas — 

San Antonio—With $2 million in funding from the NIH, researchers at the University of Michigan are going to study the effectiveness of a San Antonio company’s robot that disinfects hospital rooms.

Xenex Disinfection Services sells robots that use pulses of xenon-based ultraviolet light to kill so-called drug-resistant “superbugs”—organisms like Clostridium difficile (C. diff) or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that can cause severe infections in hospital patients. At a division of the Ann Arbor-based university that studies infectious diseases, a research team is using the funding to measure whether the robots can reduce the number of infections at two hospitals in Detroit, according to a news release from the school.

Xenex was founded in 2009 and is run by former Rackspace executive Morris Miller, who took over as CEO in 2012. The company has raised more than $48 million in venture funding, according to SEC filings. In addition to selling its robot disinfection product in the U.S., Xenex has deals for distributors to sell it in seven other countries, including most recently in Japan, according to a spokeswoman.

The $2 million came from the NIH’s Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Wayne State University in Detroit is also participating in the study, which will take place at two hospitals in the Detroit Medical Center’s network of healthcare facilities.

Xenex isn’t the only company developing new ways to eliminate potentially harmful germs in hospitals and other settings. Another example is Vioguard, a Bothell, WA-based company that created a self-sanitizing computer keyboard and mouse.