Find Effective Virus-Resistant Polymers For Personal Protective Equipment

Using fluorescence to show how particles bind differently to different types of materials. Credit: Morgan Alexander

Some polymers can resist bacteria; can they be designed to fight viruses?

Personal protective equipment, such as eye masks and dresses, is generally made of polymer. But not much attention is usually given to the choice of polymers that work beyond their physical properties.

To assist in the identification of virus-related materials and to accelerate their inactivation for use in PPE, researchers from the University of Nottingham, EMD Millipore, and Philipps Marburg University developed a better approach to analyzing interactions between matter and particles such as viruses. They report his way in the journal Biointerphases, from AIP Publishing.

“We are very interested in the fact that polymers can influence cells on their surface,” said Morgan Alexander, author of the paper. “We can get polymers, which resists bacteria, for example, without designing smart materials or antibiotics especially with antibiotics there. You need to choose the right polymer. This paper extends this thinking to bind viruses.”

The group created a microaround of 300 different monomer compositions of polymers representing a variety of characteristics. They expose the polymers to particles such as the Lassa and Rubella viruses – particles that have the same structure and viral properties but without the activated genome – to see which materials can preferably disperse the particles.

“Knowing that different polymers bind and the possibility of activating the virus to a different level means we can give recommendations. Do I need to use existing gloves or gloves if I want the virus to bind and die and not fly into the air when take gloves? Alexander said.

While this may seem like a clear method of quickly filtering out many ingredients, the team’s interdisciplinary makeup makes them uniquely positioned to conduct such studies. Surface scientists have the ability to create many chemicals in microarray, and biologists have access to particles such as viruses.

So far, the test only sees particles such as the virus from Lassa and Rubella, but the group hopes to grant grants to see particles that look like viruses from SARS-CoV-2, that COVID-19 virus.

Once some of the most accomplished materials are in place, another step in the project is to use living viruses to evaluate the infectious life of the materials, taking into account real-world environmental conditions, such as humidity and temperature. With sufficient data, molecular models can be constructed to describe interactions.

“Strong and fast bonding states the virus in polymers would be great,” Alexander said. “It still needs to be seen whether the effect is huge enough to make a real difference, but we need to look for the light.”

References: “Microarrays polymer quickly identifies competitive adsorbents of virus-like particles” by Andrew J. Blok, Pratik Gurnani, Alex Xenopoulos, Laurence Burroughs, Joshua Duncan, Richard A. Urbanowicz, Theocharis Tsoleridis, Helena Müller, Thomas Strecker, Jonathan K. Bola , Cameron Alexander and Morgan P. Alexander, November 17, 2020, Biointerphases,
DOI: 10.1116 / 6.0000586

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