August 18, 2022


Slick Healthy

Researchers develop antiviral face mask that kills viruses

  • Standard deal with masks, which include N95s and KN95s, offer defense against health issues and infection but should be disposed of the moment they come in speak to with viruses, as a result creating substantial plastic squander.
  • Scientists have created a simple process that would give N95 confront masks antiviral and antibacterial properties, which could make it possible for them to be worn for lengthier durations.
  • The “quaternary ammonium polymer-coated” N95 mask filter is capable of deactivating quite a few lipid-enveloped viruses, as nicely as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli microorganisms upon get hold of.

As highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, facial area masks lower the possibility of viral an infection by lowering the unfold of respiratory droplets.

Food and drug administration spokesperson Audra Harrison informed Medical Information Nowadays that, to date, National Institute for Occupational Protection and Health (NIOSH)-permitted N95 respirator masks are “the gold normal for respiratory security for health care personnel.”

On the other hand, common masks — which include N95s — are not able to deactivate viruses on get hold of.

The possibility of contamination raises with dress in time, and healthcare personnel are suggested to dispose of face masks immediately after individual publicity. This may perhaps lead to mask shortages and deliver considerable plastic squander.

But scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in New York created a approach that provides antiviral and antibacterial qualities to N95 encounter mask filters. They uncovered that incorporating elements with antiviral attributes into deal with masks enhanced their skill to defend from an infection while also prolonging have on time and so minimizing plastic waste.

The new research was posted in the June challenge of ACS Used Components & Interfaces.

Prior analysis has made encounter masks with antiviral exercise by incorporating metallic nanomaterials capable of deactivating viruses, these types of as copper, in the filter fibers.

On the other hand, scientists had been anxious that steel nanomaterials could detach from the mask filter and be inhaled, producing toxicity.

Polycations — extensive-chain molecules with a internet optimistic charge — can be used in its place of metal nanomaterials to endow surfaces with antiviral action. Preceding scientific studies documented the means of polycations to destroy microbes and viruses upon get hold of by disrupting their cell membranes.

Dr. Helen Zha, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer and co-author of the new confront mask study, defined the polycation-based method she and her analysis team formulated in a press release. The approach confers antimicrobial attributes to polypropylene material, which is typically used as a filtration material in N95 masks.

“The system that we created makes use of a really basic chemistry to generate this non-leaching polymer coating [on top of the N95 mask filter material] that can get rid of viruses and microbes by primarily breaking open up their outer layer.”

– Dr. Helen Zha

Dr. Zha’s group utilized a quaternary ammonium polymer (a polycation) to polypropylene fiber surfaces, making use of ultraviolet (UV) light to travel the grafting process. The resulting ultra-slim polymer coating gives the filter a long lasting positive charge without having tremendously modifying the fiber framework or the breathability of the filter.

The researchers identified that the polymer-coated polypropylene could deactivate a number of lipid-enveloped viruses, as effectively as Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli microbes, on make contact with.

The antiviral exercise of polymer-coated polypropylene was analyzed utilizing unique viruses. These incorporated a mouse coronavirus identical to the human coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, a human coronavirus, and a suid herpesvirus (also referred to as pseudorabies virus). Immediately after contact with the coated filter, the variety of infectious viral units decreased, although antiviral exercise varied appreciably relying on the virus strain and the method for quantifying infectious virus.

Centered on antimicrobial mechanisms described in previous studies, the scientists imagine that positively-charged polypropylene kills viruses and microbes on call by disrupting their cell membrane.

The researchers noted that the filtration efficiency of the N95 filter decreases immediately after the software of the antimicrobial polymer coating.

On the other hand, this situation can be fixed by putting on an unaltered N95 mask less than the polymer-coated mask.

In the long term, mask brands could use antimicrobial polymer in the exterior layer of the N95 mask.

The antimicrobial polymer-coating procedure can be used to present mask filters, rather than requiring the manufacture of new kinds.

Nonetheless, the polymer coating process was also designed “to facilitate commercialization” Dr. Zha explained to MNT.

“We purposely applied reagents, solvents, and equipment that are conveniently accessible. We pursued straightforward chemistries and approaches that have the potential to be scaled up,” stated Dr. Zha. “I think that there’s a practical pathway for scaled-up manufacturing and commercial realization.”

According to a press launch, Shekhar Garde, dean of the School of Engineering at Rensselaer, referred to the antimicrobial polymer coating process as “a wise strategy” and pointed out its flexibility.

“Given the abundance of polypropylene in each day lifestyle, perhaps this method is handy in several other contexts, as perfectly,” Garde stated.