IISc develops antiviral and antibacterial technology for masks
MUMBAI [Maha Media]: Acting on a conversation with doctors at the Vellore-based Christian Medical College over shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, has developed an antiviral and antibacterial coating technology for three-layered masks that has the potential to destroy or inactivate the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
In the absence of a vaccine, rapid manufacture of cost-effective multi-layered masks loaded with antiviral and antibacterial properties is vital because currently available masks are both expensive and inefficient in reducing viral transmission thereby putting the lives of high-risk groups such as health care workers in danger.
Researchers said their technology renders face masks more or as efficient, and cheaper, than N95 masks. As against N95 masks which costs in the range of Rs 400-Rs 600, the cost of the fabric for the three-layer mask and coating material used in the novel technology (excluding incidental expenses) costs Rs 22.
While there are no anti-viral or antibacterial agents deposited on N95 masks, the fibres are electrostatically charged. Contrary to the N95 masks, the outer layer of the three-ply textile-based face masks comprises a nanofibrous polymer membrane that is deposited on the modified polyester. This membrane makes the first layer hydrophobic, meaning it resists the entry of any liquid drops containing the virus particles. The middle layer is also coated with the nanofibrous membrane, but loaded with antiviral and antibacterial agents which inactivate the virus or bacteria that may have been transferred through the first layer. The third and innermost layer is a cotton fabric for an individual’s comfort. While the nanofibrous membranes are made of a biodegradable polymer, antiviral and antibacterial agents used are USFDA approved.
The industrially-scalable coating technology has undergone testing against viruses and bacteria at the institute’s laboratory with success. Currently a Bengaluru-based company has been identified to license their coating technology, while at the same time IISc will maintain non-exclusivity of their product owing to the magnitude of the epidemic’s outbreak.