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press release UoN July 2010


July 16 2010

Bug-busting Glo-Yo spreads the word and not the germs

It could be the next sell-out toy in the shops one Christmas but it could also stop thousands of children falling ill with tummy bugs and other infectious diseases.


That’s the hope of a team of scientists from The University of Nottingham who have launched their new invention... the Glo-Yo, a yo-yo with an ultra-violet light to teach youngsters to wash their hands properly.


The idea of developing a child-friendly gadget occurred to Dr Kim Hardie, Associate Professor of Molecular Microbiology in the School of Molecular Medical Sciences, when she was giving a talk about hygiene at her daughter’s infant school in Nottingham. It sparked a collaboration with a team of microbiologists, engineers, nurses and social scientists who’ve developed the product to a stage where they are now looking for a manufacturer to produce it.


The Glo-Yo works by dispensing a non-toxic UV-iridescent lotion onto a child’s hands. A screen on the Glo-Yo then shows the child how to wash their hands properly. The child can then push a button to shine a UV light onto their hands to see if there is any lotion left on their skin. Trials in schools have already shown the new toy is a popular and educational invention with real-life health benefits in reinforcing the good hygiene message.


Dr Hardie said: “The Glo-Yo will help children wash their hands better, they will get fewer infections as a result and will understand more about how germs spread. No doubt, they will pester the adults around them to do the same, with the same benefits. This will save employers money through reduced sick-leave and prevent a lot of suffering from very uncomfortable illnesses that can be fatal. In the end we will all be spreading the message, and not the germs!’


“I’d like to thank James Metcalfe (Product Design and Manufacture undergraduate) for the idea of basing our toy on a yo-yo, and the schools and children that helped us to design it, John Clifford Primary School, Meadow Lane Infants School, College House Junior School in Chilwell, Nottingham.”


One parent of a child at College House Junior School said: “My child is definitely more aware about washing hands and has spoken to coach others.”


Some of the children who helped trial the new supertoy commented: “They really help you to get rid of germs”, “I like it because when I squeeze it, gel comes out!”


The investigators, Dr Hardie, Dr Joel Segal, Dr Jacqueline Randle, Prof Brigitte Nerlich and Dr Caroline Windrum, have all learnt a lot about what each other do in the process of this project as well as enjoying the interaction with the children.


Dr Hardie’s wider research at the University is into the interaction of secreted and cell surface proteins with infection-causing bacteria. Her research is collating a large amount of preliminary data to enable the study of the process of bacterial colonization of human skin. The ultimate aim is to monitor the gene expression, protein production and metabolism of individual bacterial cells in real time. 

More follows…

The work has been funded by British Society for Antimicrobial Therapy, Wellcome Trust, BBSRC, MRC, EPSRC, CNRS, Nottingham University Hospital trust and The University of Nottingham.

Dr Hardie’s Glo-Yo team is working to secure a manufacturing contract which will enable further trials on the product with an eventual goal of putting the Glo-Yo into production commercially.   


Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.


The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's "only truly global university", it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.


Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (  in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City. 



More information is available from Dr Kim Hardie on +44 (0)115 846 7958 or Media Relations Manager Emma Rayner in the University’s Communications Office on +44 (0)115 951 5793 



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