A medical biotech company pioneered by researchers at NUI Galway has developed a groundbreaking new barrier spray that can be used to treat reusable face masks.
Aquila Bioscience says its new ProShield technology spray was developed as an off-shoot to its first product, a novel decontamination wipe called the ABD Device which can wipe out deadly pathogens like anthrax.
It uses the same Pathogen Capturing Technology (PCT) that is based on glycoscience – the study of protein and carbohydrates – which contain microscopic “Velcro-like” structures which bind and neutralise any harmful pathogens.
And because PCT doesn’t contain alcohol or other chemicals, it is completely safe to use on skin.
David Murphy, director of technology transfer and Innovation, at NUI Galway, said: “Timing is everything. Aquila Bioscience had developed the technology and now, in less than 12 months, they have developed a range of exciting products to address the global need for protection against Covid-19 and other pathogens.
"This remarkable journey is testimony to the expertise and dedication of the company, and the entrepreneurial environment at NUI Galway.”
Prof Lokesh Joshi, founder of Aquila Bioscience, said the innovation was also driven by the need to increase protection of reusable masks, to reduce dependence on disposable masks and ultimately to protect the environment by reducing plastic waste.
“With growing awareness of waste created by single use PPE and the toll it is taking on the environment, it is imperative that we develop innovative, environmentally conscious products that are safe to use and effectively protect users.
“Due to an exponential rise in the number of disposable masks used daily, there has been a huge surge in ocean pollution worldwide. Discarded plastic masks end up everywhere - roadsides, fields, lakes, rivers and all the way to the oceans, getting tangled up in wildlife along the way. They can take hundreds of years to slowly degrade into microplastics which are then ingested by marine life.
“People should be advised to wear reusable face masks and now we have a technology, inspired by nature, to improve protection from fabric/cotton masks by blocking up to 99pc of airborne pathogens.”
The ProShield technology was tested for its efficacy using a variety of fabric materials and its ability to capture and block airborne pathogens. The results showed that it dramatically improves the efficacy of the fabric material to block pathogens by between 94pc and 99.5pc.
While it is not currently available in shops, the spray can be ordered via the company’s website at www.aquilabioscience.com.