New Research Published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces Could Lead to Safely Reusable PPE
Masks, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) are essential for protecting healthcare workers. However, the textiles and materials used in such items can absorb and carry viruses and bacteria, inadvertently spreading the disease the wearer sought to contain.
When the coronavirus spread amongst healthcare professionals and left PPE in short supply, finding a way to provide better protection while allowing for the safe reuse of these items became paramount.
Research from the LAMP Lab at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering may have a solution. The lab has created a textile coating that can not only repel liquids like blood and saliva but can also prevent viruses from adhering to the surface. The work was recently published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
“Recently there’s been focus on blood-repellent surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability,” said Anthony Galante, PhD student in industrial engineering at Pitt and lead author of the paper. “We want to push the boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given the current pandemic, we knew it’d be important to test against viruses.”
What makes the coating unique is its ability to withstand ultrasonic washing, scrubbing and scraping. With other similar coatings currently in use, washing or rubbing the surface of the textile will reduce or eliminate its repellent abilities.
“The durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or mask once before disposing of it,” said Paul Leu, co-author and associate professor of industrial engineering, who leads the LAMP Lab. “Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and sanitized.”
Galante put the new coating to the test, running it through tens of ultrasonic washes, applying thousands of rotations with a scrubbing pad (not unlike what might be used to scour pots and pans), and even scraping it with a sharp razor blade. After each test, the coating remained just as effective.
The researchers worked with the Charles T. Campbell Microbiology Laboratory’s Research Director Eric Romanowski and Director of Basic Research Robert Shanks, in the Department of Ophthalmology at Pitt, to test the coating against a strain of adenovirus.
“As this fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as conjunctivitis (pink eye),” said Romanowski. “It was hoped that the fabric would repel these viruses similar to how it repels proteins, which these viruses essentially are: proteins with nucleic acid inside. As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way as proteins.”
The coating may have broad applications in healthcare: everything from hospital gowns to waiting room chairs could benefit from the ability to repel viruses, particularly ones as easily spread as adenoviruses.
“Adenovirus can be inadvertently picked up in hospital waiting rooms and from contaminated surfaces in general. It is rapidly spread in schools and homes and has an enormous impact on quality of life—keeping kids out of school and parents out of work,” said Shanks. “This coating on waiting room furniture, for example, could be a major step towards reducing this problem.”
The next step for the researchers will be to test the effectiveness against betacoronaviruses, like the one that causes COVID-19.
“If the treated fabric would repel betacornonaviruses, and in particular SARS-CoV-2, this could have a huge impact for healthcare workers and even the general public if PPE, scrubs, or even clothing could be made from protein, blood-, bacteria-, and virus-repelling fabrics,” said Romanowski.
At the moment, the coating is applied using drop casting, a method that saturates the material with a solution from a syringe and applies a heat treatment to increase stability. But the researchers believe the process can use a spraying or dipping method to accommodate larger pieces of material, like gowns, and can eventually be scaled up for production.
The Latest Updates from Bing News & Google News
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Yes, you can reuse KN95 and N95 masks several times. Here’s how to do it properly
The CDC says KN95 and N95 masks offer more protection against COVID-19 than cloth masks. Here’s how to reuse them.
- Scammers see opportunity in demand for virus testing in US, officials say
The winter surge has prompted many experts and officials to reemphasize the importance of masking indoors and social distancing, in addition to getting vaccinated, including booster shots. Below, ...
- China virus cases highest in nearly two years, weeks before Olympics
The number of COVID-19 cases in China reached its highest level since March 2020 on Monday, as Beijing races to smother outbreaks just three weeks before hosting the Winter Olympics.
- COVID Gets Airborne – Expert Explains How Viruses Travel Through the Air
UC San Diego develops computer model to aid understanding of how viruses travel through the air. In May 2021, the Centers for Disease Control officially recognized that SARS-CoV-2—the virus that ...
- How Omicron Affects Testing for the Coronavirus
The rise of the omicron variant of the coronavirus has refocused attention on the importance of testing as a tool for bringing the pandemic under control ... on the surface of the virus.
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Cannabinoid might limit SARS-CoV-2 infections, but don’t light up just yet
But the number of caveats is pretty staggering: the effect is small, it hasn't been tested in patients, the quality assurance of commercial cannabidiol (CBD) products is nearly nonexistent, ...
- Nano bubbles could treat, prevent current and future strains of SARS-CoV-2
Scientists have identified natural nano-bubbles containing the ACE2 protein (evACE2) in the blood of COVID-19 patients and discovered these nano-sized particles can block infection from broad strains ...
- California proposal would allow preteens to be vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2 without a parent’s consent
Sen. Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, observes that California already allows those 12 and up to consent to the Hepatitis B and HPV vaccines, ...
- Omicron found to have higher environmental stability among SARS-CoV-2 variants
A new study compared the SARS-CoV-2 Wuhan strain and all the variants of concern (VOCs) - Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Omicron variants for their survivability and infectivity.
- Q&A: Passive air sampler clip detects personal exposure to SARS-CoV-2
Initial findings indicate that a passive air sampler clip can detect airborne SARS-CoV-2 indoors and may provide a way for individuals in high-risk settings to assess their personal exposure to the ...