LOS ANGELES - AK Steel is donating steel coated with the AgION antimicrobial compound for City of Hope's Helford Clinical Research Hospital currently under construction in Duarte, California. The hospital will allow for the rapid development of new treatment protocols that may result in cures for a variety of life-threatening illnesses. Additionally, the hospital will house the nation's largest bone marrow transplantation facility.

The same type of steel was also donated to Habitat for Humanity of Butler County, Pa., for use in constructing the second home in the nation to include microbe-resistant steel. This donation was AK Steel's second to the Habitat project; the company previously donated steel construction materials and $60,000.

Ground was broken for the new hospital in October 2001. When completed in 2004, the Helford facility will meet the exacting scientific and medical requirements necessary for established and new medical treatment protocols. The result will be a building with one of the nation's safest and most advanced treatment environments for a variety of complex medical procedures, such as bone marrow transplantation. With 144 beds, the 337,000-sq.-ft. facility is designed to be one of the nation's most pristine medical environments.

AK Steel's antimicrobial-coated steels will be used in the facility's air handling ductwork and may have other potential applications such as stainless steel door hardware, push plates and light switch plates.

"Antimicrobial-coated steel is a natural fit for our state-of-the-art hospital," says Gil Schwartzberg, president and chief executive officer of City of Hope. "Patients undergoing treatment for cancer and other life-threatening diseases often have weakened immune systems-clean environments are of critical importance. Our goal is to create a new standard of cleanliness."

According to the manufacturer, AgION antimicrobial compound is a long-lasting, inorganic material that contains silver ions-a safe and natural antimicrobial agent. The compound, according to AgION, has two key components working together to suppress the growth of microbes: silver ions - the active agent; and zeolite - acting as a reservoir, stores the silver ions and releases them.

City of Hope National Research Center and Beckman Research Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center located in the Greater Los Angeles area, is one of the world's leading research and treatment centers for life-threatening diseases including cancer, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.