A light-activated anti-viral nanocoating that could reduce nosocomical viruses has been developed by Dr Stephen Michielsen of North Carolina State University College of Textiles, USA, and Drs. Igor Stjiljkovic and Gordon Churward of Emory University's School of Medicine, USA.
This novel coating stems from extensive research on nanotechnology and its use to modify the surface of polymers and fibres, by Michielsen. According to Michielsen, the main objective of his research was to produce long-lasting antimicrobial textiles to reduce infections in hospitals.
Michieslen's work has enabled the development of nanocoatings approximately 5-10 nm thick that can enhance the antiviral performance of all materials and surfaces.
Preliminary tests on the proprietary coatings have shown that they kill or inactivate 99.9% of influenza and vaccinia viruses, when exposed to visible light, indicating that customised formulations are not required for specific viruses.
‘In the presence of light, a specific reaction takes place on the surface that makes air poisonous to microbes, yet harmless to people,’ Michielsen explains. ‘The coating does not wear out and continually regenerates so it’s able to continue killing viruses again and again.’
North Carolina State University has applied for a patent, which has been licensed to North Carolina-based start-up, LaamScience Inc. The company, whose name is an acronym for Light Activated Anti Microbials, aims to reduce pandemic disease by integrating coatings into everyday products.
LaamScience has already raised over US$400,000 in seed financing from investors. The funds will go towards optimising the coating and developing a prototype. This will be used in performance trials that specifically target hospitals.
LaamScience is also developing a room air purifier that incorporates this technology. Other applications include an effective and inexpensive ‘viral inactivating’ safety mask, automatic and continuous decontamination of hospital facilities through furniture and wall coverings in hospitals, and specially designed aeroplane air filters.
Dr Patrick Mize, Chief Science Officer at LaamScience, says, ‘The potential uses for this technology is unlimited. These are applications that can change the world.’