A Black Country firm this week will launch a product containing a cleaning agent proven to wipe out Clostridium difficile.

Chemex International, based in Smethwick, has spent three years developing AntiBak, which it claims is nearly 1,000 times more effective than disinfectants currently available for use in hospitals.

As well as eradicating C.diff spores, the substance is also purported to be able to kill norovirus, MRSA, avian flu H5N1, SARS and HIV.

Sean Derrig, the firm's chief executive, said the development of AntiBak was a massive breakthrough with the product having the potential to save thousands of lives every year.

"C. diff poses such a huge threat because it produces spores which are notoriously difficult to kill," said Mr Derrig.

"These spores are what makes C. diff spread so easily and normal cleaning chemicals have no effect on them. The challenge has been to find a product that's safe to use and kills the spores.

"Now this has been achieved with AntiBak - a powder or tablet diluted in water which is simply sprayed onto surfaces and wiped off, killing C.diff and MRSA as well as a host of other dangerous bacteria and viruses such as norovirus and avian flu.

"When used to clean wards or operating theatres it does not require the lengthy shutdowns or specialist techniques which are often associated with traditional 'deep cleans'."

In independent tests AntiBak has achieved the internationally approved EN1276 and EN13704 standards against the spores. It has also achieved four other international standards including veterinary approvals from Defra for use against foot-and-mouth disease, avian flu H5N1 and salmonella choleraesius.

Mr Derrig added: "The Government has made tackling hospital infection one of its priorities and now we can provide hospitals with the most effective weapon available to help ensure patients are protected from potentially lethal bacteria, viruses and spores."