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Exploring cytotoxicity of neutral hypochlorous acid

A 2020/2021 Summer Studentship research project

Student: Anthony Yee-Goh
Supervisors: Professor Gary Hooper, Professor Tim Woodfield, Dr Khoon Lim
Sponsor: Canterbury Orthopaedic Services


This project is part of wider work looking at the potential of neutral hypochlorous acid (HOCl) as a surgical sterilisation agent. HOCl has been shown to be a highly bactericidal agent and is generated naturally by the human body in the oxidative burst of the neutrophil. Whilst HOCl has been extensively used in the food industry, its application in the medical field has been limited to this date.

It is the conjugate acid of bleach, and when generated through electrolysis of sodium chloride and water, can be created at a neutral rather than acidic pH. The benefits of this are increased shelf life, lack of corrosiveness and low skin irritation, whilst maintaining high bactericidal activity.


We are interested in the use of HOCl in the clinical environment to reduce rates of peri-operative infection in Orthopaedic Surgery. In order to achieve this, any cytotoxicity caused by HOCl needs to be explored. This project will inform safe concentrations of HOCl for clinical use, and aid in transition from in vitro to human trial


HOCl will be applied to human cell lines (MSCs) in both 2D and 3D culture techniques established within the CReaTE group. The effect on direct toxicity, cell differentiation, and further function will be assessed.

Student researcher’s component of the study

The summer student will be supported in the laboratory work required to carry out the above method. Publication from the project is expected.

Student prerequisites

This project would be ideal for a medical student with some laboratory or cell culture experience.

How to apply