Reusable Textiles to Repel Viruses

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Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a coating that can be used to create textiles that repel viruses, along with bodily fluids such as saliva and blood. Interestingly, the coated textiles are reusable, and can be washed and scrubbed repeatedly without losing their virus-repelling properties. These characteristics may make them highly suited for use in reusable personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A shortage of PPE has made the response to the COVID-19 pandemic more difficult for healthcare staff. Most PPE items are not reusable, and, once potentially exposed to the virus, they must be discarded. Developing reusable PPE could make stocks last for longer and help healthcare staff to better protect themselves and their patients.

To address
this, these researchers have developed a repellent coating for textiles that
allows them to repel bodily fluids, and even viruses, making it easy to wash
any contamination off. “Recently there’s been focus on blood-repellent
surfaces, and we were interested in achieving this with mechanical durability,”
said Anthony Galante, a researcher involved in the study. “We want to push the
boundary on what is possible with these types of surfaces, and especially given
the current pandemic, we knew it’d be important to test against viruses.”

The
researchers’ solution involves polytetrafluoroethylene nanoparticles suspended
in a solvent that is drop-casted onto the textile surface, and then exposed to
heat to get the solution to bind to the textile fibers. The resulting coated textile
is superhemophobic and antivirofouling. So far, the researchers have tested the
coated textiles in their ability to repel adenoviruses, and intend to test it
against coronaviruses in the future.

“As this
fabric was already shown to repel blood, protein and bacteria, the logical next
step was to determine whether it repels viruses. We chose human adenovirus
types 4 and 7, as these are causes of acute respiratory disease as well as
conjunctivitis,” said Eric Romanowski, another researcher involved in the study.
“It was hoped that the fabric would repel these viruses similar to how it
repels proteins, which these viruses essentially are: proteins with nucleic
acid inside. As it turned out, the adenoviruses were repelled in a similar way
as proteins.”

By
subjecting the coated textiles to repeated rounds of ultrasonic washing and
scrubbing with pads, the researchers demonstrated that the textile could be
thoroughly washed and still maintain its repellent properties, suggesting its
potential as a component of reusable PPE.

“The
durability is very important because there are other surface treatments out
there, but they’re limited to disposable textiles. You can only use a gown or
mask once before disposing of it,” said Paul Leu, a third researcher involved
in the project. “Given the PPE shortage, there is a need for coatings that can
be applied to reusable medical textiles that can be properly washed and
sanitized.”  

Study in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces: Superhemophobic and
Antivirofouling Coating for Mechanically Durable and Wash-Stable Medical
Textiles

Via: University
of Pittsburgh





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