“Sanitizing plastic”: antiviral nanoparticle decorated surfaces for antiseptic packaging against COVID-19

Turak, Ayse | $50,000

Ontario McMaster University 2020 NSERC Alliance COVID-19 Grant

Enveloped viruses such as COVID‑19 have a much longer survivability on surfaces than many other types of viruses. With the recent public health campaigns, people have become much more aware of the need for hand washing after touching hard surfaces outside the home, like door handles or shopping carts. However, COVID‑19 can persist on plastic surfaces such as the packaging of groceries for as long as 3 days, and even longer if kept in the fridge. Once brought into the home, those items can become potential sources of pollution and infect residents of the home, including vulnerable people like seniors, people with compromised immune systems, and children. Lack of awareness or knowledge of such risk poses a challenge to most consumers without any medical background or training. A disposable packaging material with an effective antiviral surface could break down the virus, make it easier for people in self-isolation to ensure safety against accidental infection, and protect Canadian homes.

Using nanoparticles that target the protective sheath around COVID-19, we propose to make an anti-viral plastic that can accelerate the degradation of coronaviruses on flexible surfaces, such as plastic food packaging that we bring home. An actively “sanitizing plastic” can help consumers shop in a safer way and potentially decrease the risk of infection among vulnerable population. Since our antiviral nanoparticle surfaces target the capsid and lipid protection sheath of the Covid-19 virus instead of its RNA, they could potentially act as broad-spectrum antiviral agents, preparing Canada for future epidemics caused by viruses of similar structure. Though here we focus on sanitizing plastic that could be incorporated into packaging to speed the destruction of COVID-19, it is possible that the nanoparticle embedded plastic could be incorporated into a woven structure. It can then be used in air filters, sanitizing handwipes, and other PPE in general. In the anti-virus campaign faced by all humanity, this new approach has tremendous potential.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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