Chitin biopolymer derivatives as antiviral long-lasting surface coatings, functional films and PPE
In the absence of effective vaccines and antivirals, there is an outstanding need for barrier and disinfectant technologies to protect high-risk individuals from SARS-CoV-2 infection and prevent community transmission. The goal of this Alliance grant is to develop a virucidal biomaterial coating that can be applied to surfaces or incorporated into personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect from respiratory viruses. Natural biopolymers like chitin and derivatives can be incorporated into many products and have well-documented antiviral and antimicrobial activity. The team, comprising Dalhousie University and University of Prince Edward Island virologists with experience in studying the antiviral properties of natural products, have engaged with TerraVerdae Bioworks (TVB) to determine the antiviral potential of their modified chitosan biopolymer technology. Specifically, this team will: (1) Elucidate the anti-viral mechanism of action of chemically-modified chitosan against coronaviruses; and (2) Develop and test formulations for delivery of the chemically-modified chitosan as a surface coating spray and assess the persistence of the antiviral properties of these sprays on different surfaces. To date, the team has been focused on building up coronavirus research capacity with the support of grants from Nova Scotia COVID‑19 Health Research Coalition and Research Nova Scotia, which put it in a strong position to directly test the antiviral properties of TVB biomaterials. This Alliance Grant-supported project will yield actionable information about the antiviral potency and half-life of chemically-modified chitosan against coronaviruses, which TVB plans to use to support the development of a persistent hand-sanitizer as well as other follow-on technologies that leverage the adhesive properties of biopolymers to confer antiviral activity into bioplastic films, coatings, adhesives and other performance bioplastics.