Researchers at the University of Central Florida (UCF) have developed a nanoparticle-based disinfectant that can contain the spread of several viruses for seven days. This new formulation could be a powerful weapon against Covid-19 and other emerging pathogens.
The Covid-19 pandemic has drawn global attention to the threat of emerging viruses and antiviral therapies in general, including highlighting the need for highly effective antiviral and disinfectant materials / products. Most wipes or sprays on the market today disinfect a surface within three to six minutes of application and have an effectiveness limited to a few hours at most. This means that surfaces must be treated regularly in order to be able to effectively control the spread of pathogens.
In a recent study, researchers at the University of Central Florida developed a formulation capable of retaining its ability to inactivate microbes on surfaces for seven days after a single application. The results of this work were published in the journal ACS Nano.
A disinfectant based on nanoparticles
Christina Drake, founder of Kismet Technologies, initially planned to develop a fast acting disinfectant. However, a quick survey of doctors and dentists highlighted the fact that in the performance of their duties, on the contrary, they wanted a product with a long-lasting effect capable of disinfecting areas with high contact such as door handles for a long time. after application.
In this work, the researcher joined forces with Dr Sudipta Seal, materials engineer at UCF, and Dr Griff Parks, virologist and director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences. Thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation, the team was able to develop a disinfectant composed of nanoparticles whose active ingredient is an artificial nanostructure called cerium oxide, known for its regenerating antioxidant properties.
In this case, the cerium oxide nanoparticles were modified with small amounts of silver to make them more potent against pathogens. “It works both chemically and mechanically,” says Dr. Seal. “The nanoparticles emit electrons which oxidize the virus, rendering it inactive. Mechanically, they also attach to the virus and break their surface. It’s a bit like popping a balloon ”.
Dr. Griff Parks. Credit: University of Central Florida
Effective against several viruses
According to the study, this disinfectant would have offered an effective antiviral activity against seven different viruses. “Not only has it shown antiviral properties against the new coronavirus and rhinovirus, but it has also been shown to be effective against a wide range of other pathogens with different structures and complexities”, notes Dr. Parks for his part. . “We hope that with this incredible destructive capacity, this disinfectant will also be an effective tool against other new emerging viruses”.
In addition, the formulation does not contain any harmful chemicals. For researchers, this new formula could therefore play a major role in healthcare establishments by reducing the rate of nosocomial infections. In the meantime, the next step will be to assess the performance of the disinfectant in real conditions (outside the laboratory) exposed to external factors such as temperature or sunlight.