Contact killing of COVID‑19 by copper-based nanoparticles.

Labbe, Simon | $49,950

Quebec Université de Sherbrooke 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The primary goal of this proposal is to decipher the virucidal efficacy of carboxymethyl cellulose copper (CMC-Cu) nanoparticles against COVID‑19 (formally named SARS-CoV-2). The studies will be performed in partnership with the Canadian company Sani Marc Group. Microbes are rapidly killed on surfaces of copper and copper alloys through a process named copper-mediated “contact killing”. Furthermore, a recent study has revealed that COVID‑19 is not viable upon exposure to copper surfaces. Of significance, copper concentrations required to kill microbes are not toxic for humans. Creating “self-disinfecting surfaces” by coating inanimate surfaces with copper is difficult to apply for practical and economic reasons. However, an exciting avenue is the recent discovery of CMC-Cu as an effective alternative to one-step disinfectant agent that significantly reduces microbial levels on surfaces and inanimate objects. Using an innovative method enabling production of MLV-based COVID‑19 pseudotyped particles in a biosafety level 2 laboratory, we will investigate COVID‑19 stability and its ability to attach and infect target cells in the presence of CMC-Cu in the absence of other reagent or in the presence of selected Sani Marc’s disinfectant products.

During the next year, we will focus our research program on the following specific aims.

1. Production of MLV-based COVID‑19 Spike-pseudotyped particles containing a reporter gene that enables quantification of virus entry into host cells.

2. Mode of action of CMC-Cu-mediated inactivation of COVID‑19 Spike-pseudotyped particles.

3. Determination of how are COVID‑19 Spike-pseudotyped particles killed in the presence of CMC-Cu.

Students trained under this program will acquire education/training in multidisciplinary approaches, including areas of nanotechnology, virology, biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology. Students without distinction as to minorities will develop critical skills, allowing them to gain the status of highly trained scientists for the Canadian biotech sector and/or academic research community.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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