Malic and fumaric acid formulations to stop COVID‑19 persistence, and supply novel and safe sanitizers and disinfectants

Sabatinos, Sarah | $50,000

Ontario Ryerson University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

The COVID‑19 pandemic presents extensive challenges in cleaning and sanitizing shared spaces. Bartek Ingredients Inc. is a Canadian company and the largest manufacturer of malic acid in the world. Bartek would like to test malic and fumaric acid effects on human coronavirus. The goal is to develop industrial cleaning and sanitizing agents that are effective in environmental and industrial settings that are not compatible with washing or bleaching. Health experts agree that washing with soap and water is the best cleaning method, while bleach is the best sanitization solution. However, there are areas/items that cannot be washed or bleached. Shared spaces with extensive textiles, such as theatres and public transit, are difficult to clean. Bleach damages stainless steel surfaces, causing surfaces that may trap virus (e.g. in meat packaging plants, industrial food preparation areas, etc.). Organic acid disinfectants tailored for COVID‑19 are better for fabrics than bleach, do not pit stainless steel, and are an option for when soap and water washing is not possible. However, there is limited knowledge of whether these would be effective. Citric acid is a component in some cleaners; malic and fumaric acids, have been explored for rhinovirus inactivation in tissues. Our collaboration with Bartek will explore the effect(s) of organic acids on human coronaviruses. We ask whether malic and fumaric acids kill virus, and how virus disruption happens. We test combinations of acids, and develop proprietary technology for cleaning solutions. This is an important opportunity to apply our models and tools in an important industrial challenge that advances societal goals of living safely with COVID‑19 globally. The uses of malic acid are expected to increase for the next decade, and we look forward to working with Bartek Ingredients Inc to prevent COVID‑19 spread from surfaces and direct research that could increase options in later waves or a future pandemic.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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