UK researchers develop antiviral face mask material – Spectrum News 1

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A team of University of Kentucky researchers have developed a medical face mask material that can trap and neutralize the virus that causes COVID-19.


What You Need To Know

  • UK researchers developed an antiviral face mask material that can neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens
  • SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease in humans
  • The material captures and deactivates the virus’s spike proteins, which allow the virus to enter host cells
  • Not only could the material filter out coronavirus-sized aerosols, but it was also able to destroy the spike proteins within 30 seconds of contact

Led by engineering professor Dr. Dibakar Bhattacharyya (DB) and Ph.D student Rollie Mills, the team developed a membrane with enzymes that deactivate the spike proteins on SARS-CoV-2 particles. Spike proteins allow the virus to enter host cells once inside the body.

The new material can capture and deactivate those spike proteins on contact, researchers said.

Dibakar Bhattacharyya in the lab with a large sheet of membrane material. (Ben Corwin/Research Communications)

“This innovation is another layer of protection against SARS-CoV-2 that can help prevent the virus from spreading,” DB said. “It’s promising to the development new products that can protect against SARS-CoV-2 and a number of other human pathogenic viruses.”

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DB and several UK colleagues earned a grant from the National Science Foundation to work on the material. Their work was published on May 24.

The team developed the membrane, which was fabricated through an existing collaboration with a large-scale membrane manufacturer. It was then tested using SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins that were immobilized on synthetic particles.

Not only could the material filter out coronavirus-sized aerosols, but it was also able to destroy the spike proteins within 30 seconds of contact.

The membrane provided a protection factor above the OSHA standard for N95 masks, meaning that it could filter at least 95% of airborne particles, the study found.

“These membranes have been proven to be a promising system of advancement toward the new generation of respiratory face masks and enclosed-environment filters that can significantly reduce coronavirus transmission by virus protein deactivation and enhanced aerosol particle capture,” the study reports.


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