In the fight against Covid-1
A preprint paper recently published by Indiana University scientists suggests that a substance that eliminates the infectivity of coronaviruses upon contact by generating an electric field may be the answer to the problem.
Last month, a team of researchers found that a hybrid combination of one layer of cotton and two layers of chiffon was the most effective fabric for a face mask. They found that the combination’s high efficiency is likely due to the combined effect of mechanical and electrostatic filtration of infectious particles.
IU’s new study further explores the potential of electrostatic forces to act against Covid-19.
Research is part of a still growing field of medical devices known as “electroceutics” – a fusion of the words “electrostatic” and “pharmaceuticals”. Electro-medicines use weak electrical fields that are not harmful to humans to treat a variety of diseases. Pacemakers that are used to treat arrhythmias are a common example.
Chandan Sen, the lead author and director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering, previously worked on the development of the electricity-generating tissue for antimicrobial applications. Bio-electric technology company Vomaris Inc is currently marketing the electroceutical tissue for use as a wound dressing to kill pathogens.
The fabric is printed out of polyester with small metal dots made of zinc and silver. The geometric, alternating pattern of zinc and silver creates micro-cell batteries that generate an electric field when exposed to moisture. When treating wounds, the electrical field prevents the formation of biofilms and reduces the risk of bacterial infection during the healing process.
Knowing that viruses rely on electrostatic forces to assemble and bind to cells, the researchers suspected that the electroceutical tissue could also be used to destabilize the coronavirus.
As a control for their test, the team used a polyester fabric without the micro cell batteries on the surface. They then exposed both fabrics to an aqueous solution containing cells with a respiratory corona virus at room temperature and allowed them to absorb.
Their subsequent analysis showed that only one minute of contact with the electroceutical tissue led to a significant reduction in the electrokinetic properties of the virus particles. In addition, the researchers monitored the infected cells that were obtained from the electroceutical tissues and found that the cytopathic effects expected in the presence of virus invasions were not present.
The team reported that the cells from the electroceutical tissue were as healthy as the uninfected cells, indicating that the virus had lost its infectivity, while cells from the control tissue did not receive the same protection.
Although further studies are needed to characterize the structural change of coronaviruses when exposed to electroceutical tissue, the researchers hope that their results will be the first step in obtaining FDA approval for the technology that the technology is intended for use with Face mask can be widely used.