- Antiviral nano-coating is non-toxic for humans
- It usually comprises copper-based nano particles along with polymers
- It makes PPEs and masks reusable without the fear of spreading the virus
New Delhi: The country will soon have antiviral, antimicrobial spray that can destroy viruses including coronavirus and also textiles that can help in making reusable personal protective equipment kits and masks. As the medical community is waging a battle to tackle the spread of the current pandemic and develop a cure for COVID-19, experts focus on preventative measures in order to curb the resurgence of the coronavirus and be better prepared to deal with the disease logistically. Researchers at Punjab University and Muse Wearables, an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras incubated start-up, have developed antiviral nano-coating spray and antiviral nano-coated textile respectively that is up to 99.99 per cent effective against bacteria, moulds and viruses.
What Is Anti-Viral Nano-Coating?
According to KLN Sai Prasanth, 30-year-old Chief Executive Officer, Conzumex Industries, which operates the Muse Wearables and an IIT-Madras alumni who studied nano-coating during his Masters, it is the process of coating a surface with particles as small as 1 nanometer to 100 nanometers. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter and an antiviral nano-coating refers to coating a surface with nanoparticles of such substances that have antimicrobial and antiviral properties like metals such as copper, titanium and silver along with polymers. He said,
When you coat the surface with nanoparticles of an antimicrobial substance, this means that a large number of small particles are present in an area. Therefore, these particles being in very large numbers (in billions) are able to amplify their antimicrobial mechanisms which they are not able to do in large size. This implies that the capacity of the substance to destroy the virus is elevated to a great extent. So when a virus comes in contact with the antiviral coated surface it destroys the virus instead of becoming contagious. It is absolutely non-toxic for humans to use.
He further explained that the nanoparticles attract the RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) in the genes of the virus to come out of its cell and thus the virus gets killed. Muse Wearables is working on producing antiviral nano-coated textile material that can be used in manufacturing various items of use like personal protective gears, masks, uniforms and furniture covers among others.
How Can Antiviral Nano Coating Help In The Fight Against COVID-19?
Professor Surinder Kumar Mehta of the Department of Chemistry of Punjab University who has developed antiviral nano-coating spray using nano-copper particles and polymers said,
We have developed an affordable antimicrobial nano-coating spray for masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) kits for healthcare workers to prevent them from COVID-19 infection and from themselves becoming a virus carrier. It can be used by anyone, on any kind of surface. When the virus touches the surface, because of its interaction with the nano-particles it will automatically get destroyed and thus making the surface safe. This will allow reusability of masks/PPEs and easy containment of the microbes and thus keeping the healthcare staff protected while also addressing the issue of lack of adequate number of PPEs for our frontline workers.
He further said that it is washable and lasts for over 45 days because the polymer used in the spray makes the coating strong. Along with PPEs and masks, the spray can be used to frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, door handles, car steering, staircase railings, spectacle, laptops, and phones, among others. Professor Mehta said,
The innovation is affordable as Copper is relatively inexpensive than silver and titanium. Thus, even the poor can reap the benefit of this technology at their homes and place of work. It can be sprayed/dip-coated onto any kind of surface including textiles and other medical device surfaces to get rid of microbial load.
When Will The Antiviral Textile And Nano-Coating Spray Become Available For Mass Use?
According to Professor Mehta the coating will be available for commercial purchase by the end of next month. He said that the formula developed by his team has been given to a start-up which is currently waiting for clinical tests, analyzing logistics and will soon start the mass production of the spray.
Muse Wearables, on the other hand, is also waiting for the end-point assessment on textiles using the SAR-CoV-2 virus itself which according to Prasanth can happen at only two places in the country- ICMR (Indian Council Of Medical Research) and NIV (National Institute of Virology), Pune. He said,
Academically everything is set and the process has been tested with a large number of viruses. We are waiting for our slot at the ICMR facility and soon after publishing the findings of the test with coronavirus, we may start selling the technology from June first week. We have already been approached by 60 companies, mostly textile. We have filed for two patents till now.
Considering the effectiveness of nano-coating technology, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) of the Union Ministry of Science and Technology has recently called for research in upscaling antiviral nano-coating for producing anti-COVID-19 Triple Layer Medical masks and N-95 respirator in large quantities.
By next month, there are two anti-viral nano-coated products that are likely to hit the market- an anti-viral nano-coating spray that can be used by anyone including the general public and manufacturers and anti-viral nano-coated textile that can be used by manufactures making PPEs, masks, uniforms, sheets and furniture covers among others. As Professor Mehta noted, doctors and nurses may soon be dressed to kill the virus.