COVID-19 Disinfectants: American Researchers Demonstrate Light-Induced Inhibition Of SARS-CoV-2 Using Conjugated Oligomers And Polymers
: American researchers from the University of New Mexico and the University of Texas at San Antonio in a new study have demonstrated an alternative approach to long-lasting disinfection agains the SARS-CoV-2 by using cationic phenylene ethynylene polymers and oligomers (i.e., conjugated electrolytes) and visible light or near-UV light irradiation.
With both the oligomers and polymers, the study team says that they can reach several logs of inactivation with relatively short irradiation times.
The study results suggest several applications involving the incorporation of these materials in wipes, sprays, masks and clothing and other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that can be useful in preventing infections and the spreading of this deadly virus and future outbreaks from similar viruses.
The research findings are published on a preprint server and pending peer-review. https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.09.29.20204164v1
The current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the highly contagious SARS-CoV-2, is exceptionally difficult to control or prevent. At the moment, there are no real treatment options, while a safe and effective vaccine and its widespread implementation is still over the horizon.
There are very few long-lasting disinfectants that are available to prevent the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Several conventional ones are shown to be active against the SARS-CoV-2, and the most commonly used among them are hydrogen peroxide, bleach, and alcohol solution.
Interestingly In the last decade, many research groups revealed the effectiveness of cationic phenylene ethynylene polymers, oligomers (conjugated electrolytes), and derivative materials againstpathogens like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The antimicrobial activity of these cationic phenylene ethynylene polymers, oligomers includes both light-activated and dark-active pathways, with relatively low toxicity against the human skin.
This current study paper reports a pilot study of five phenylene ethynylene materials and compounds as inactivators of SARS-CoV-2 in aqueous suspensions.
The study team had tested five representative conjugated oligomers and polymers as inactivators of SARS-CoV-2, which were selected from the group of phenylene ethynylene-based cationic and anionic conjugated materials.
The aforementioned five materials more specifically were chosen as salient examples of a much larger assemblage of polymeric and oligomeric conjugated electrolytes, previously shown to be highly active against various microorganisms.
In the study the samples of each material in solution had been incubated with a suspension of SARS-CoV-2 dissolved in water. In addition, the samples were incubated in the dark and under UV-visible light irradiation in a photoreactor.
Subsequently following the incubation period for increasing amounts of time, all the samples were analyzed in detail for virus activity.
Significantly, the result of the study showed that all five materials test
ed demonstrated antiviral activity against SARS-CoV-2 under irradiation with light absorbed by the specific material. More specifically, moderate to very strong inactivation of the virus has been seen on irradiation with near-UV or visible light
Lead researcher Dr Florencia A. Monge from the Center for Biomedical Engineering, University of New Mexico told Thailand medical News, "With both the oligomers and polymers, we can reach several logs of inactivation with relatively short irradiation times.”
It was thought that such pronounced antiviral activity likely arises due to the binding of the compounds to viral proteins and moving them really close to the virus, which is followed by light-activated singlet oxygen and the generation of reactive oxygen species with damaging effects to the virus.
However, although the oligomers and polymers are active under irradiation, they cannot inactivate the virus in the dark.
This is not surprising since SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus and in the dark the interactions between oligomers and polymers and membrane proteins are not expected to be strong enough to denature the protein or break covalent bonds.
However, three oligomers are active when irradiated with near ultraviolet light, while the two polymers are active under both visible and near-UV irradiation.
The research findings open the door towards practical applications of these materials. Their use is feasible in the prevention of COVID-19 and a myriad of other virus-based diseases, but also for future virus threats.
In past research by the same study team, they had shown that similar materials prepared can be readily incorporated into surface coatings to achieve broad-spectrum antimicrobial properties. One notable example is textile with compounds either covalently attached via electrospinning or non-covalently incorporated by adsorption. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/am200644g
Dr Monge further added, "Our study results suggest several applications involving the incorporation of these materials in wipes, sprays, masks and clothing and other personal protection equipment that can be useful in preventing infections and the spreading of this deadly virus and future outbreaks from similar viruses.”
Furthermore, it seems likely that warfare fighters, clothing for athletes, as well as paints and coatings may provide lasting disinfection of hard surfaces in rooms, outdoor/indoor spaces, and vehicles.
The tremendous potential clinical utility has been corroborated by other studies, which have shown that these materials are not hazardous to the environment from their degradation byproducts, and also not harmful to human skin (or other types of mammalian cells for that matter). In any case, further research may bring this concept from bench to bedside much sooner than expected.
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