Disinfectants-COVID-19: University of Central Florida Developing Faster-Acting, Longer-Lasting COVID-19 Disinfectant Using Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles
To curb the problem of current COVID-19 disinfectants taking time to sanitize surfaces and the impracticability of using them
on high-contact areas such as door handles, elevators, and bannisters due to ‘wearing-off' effects, researchers from the University of Central Florida (UCF) are co-developing a new, rapid-acting, long-lasting disinfectant spray that instantly kills viruses without using harsh chemicals.
The research team said that the disinfectant spray will use UCF-developed cerium oxide nanoparticles that have been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic properties.
The research is led by Dr Christina Drake, a materials science engineer and owner of Orlando-based Kismet Technologies, Ltd., and includes UCF Department of Materials Science and Engineering chair and Professor Sudipta Seal and UCF Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences director and Professor Dr Griffith Parks.
The team was recently awarded a more than US$250,000 grant by The National Science Foundation to advance the project.
Dr Drake’s Kismet Technologies is a research and development technology company that specializes in the ideation and creation of engineered materials and sensors for use in defense, health technologies, and automotive safety.
Dr Drake told Thailand Medical News, “Spray and wiped-based disinfectants require a surface to stay wet, usually on the order of minutes, in order to get to the 99.9 percent killing of viruses and germs. We are creating a rapid-acting disinfectant spray that will disinfect faster than current disinfectants and that leaves behind a temporary, yet continually, disinfecting film post application.”
This protective transparent film is not sticky and will not be obvious when applied to a surface due to the nanoscale size of the disinfecting particles it contains, Dr Drake says.
The film coating is planned to continuously sanitize because of the regenerative nature of the nanoparticles.
Dr Drake got the idea for the spray while grocery shopping during the early days of the pandemic. She noticed an employee spraying disinfectant on a surface, but then immediately drying it, thus eliminating the spray’s effectiveness.
She said, “I realized that was a real pitfall of disinfectants. Leaving surfaces wet for minutes in high traffic areas, while people are present and shopping, is just not practical.”
Dr Drake reached out to Professor Seal, her doctoral advisor during her graduate studies at UCF, to start developing ideas. Parks, who is also working with Seal to develop a virus-destroying face shield material, joined the team to bring his virology expertise to the project.
The novel disinfectant they are developing works by using cerium oxide nanoparticles developed by Seal, which prior research indicates could be lethal to viruses similar to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
To date, Cerium oxide nanoparticles have been shown to have a wide range of therapeutic properties from healing diabetic wounds, to reducing harm from radiation, helping kill cancer cells and working as an antibiotic.
These Cerium oxide nanoparticles also have a unique ability to act as a powerful antioxidant in healthy human cells and also to generat
e protective hydroxyl radicals to defend against pathogens.
Professor Seal added, “We’ve been working on using these nanoparticles to kill cancer cells and other things, and we thought, why not create a separate formulation that can hopefully deactivate the virus in the same way, using its redox ability.”
The proposed approach is novel because of the multiple disinfecting mechanisms that are built into the nanoparticles and because they will be incorporated into a formulation that allows a temporary, disinfectant film to form.
The study team is actively working to synthesize initial formulations that Parks will test on a panel of different viruses, including coronaviruses related to SARS-CoV-2.
Dr Parks added, “I’m very excited to be a part of this terrific multi-discipline team of scientists addressing an important question in safety.”
Professor Seal joined UCF’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, which is part of UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science, in 1997. He has an appointment at the College of Medicine and is a member of UCF’s prosthetics Cluster Biionix. He is the former director of UCF’s Nanoscience Technology Center and Advanced Materials Processing Analysis Center. He received his doctorate in materials engineering with a minor in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California Berkeley.
Dr Parks is the College of Medicine’s associate dean for research. He came to UCF in 2014 as director of the Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences after 20 years at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, where he was professor and chairman of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology. He earned his doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin and was an American Cancer Society Fellow at Northwestern University.
The new disinfectant spray could be sent to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval in a few weeks’ time, after which it could appear on the market before the end of the year, the study team said.
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