Anti-viral coating could end surface transmission of Covid
CodiKoat’s protection against fomite transmission – a coating that kills viruses including Covid-19 in seconds and lasts a year – could be the perfect facilitator for a return to a more normal way of life this summer.
The company’s product – so new it has yet to be peer-reviewed and for which no in-use photographs are currently available – is being piloted in care homes, hotels and at ATMs, and could also be relevant or hospitals, at passport control facilities, pubs, restaurants, hospitals, sports grounds and music venues.
The company says its newly patented technology “can also be easily integrated into the manufacturing process of door handles, doctors’ gowns, facemasks, bank notes, lift buttons, keyboards and virtually any product and surface commonly exposed to viruses and bacteria”.
Right now, the coating is applied by machine, but a spray is on the way, thanks not least to two Innovate UK grants totalling £325,000.
The product involves coating a thin film of nanoparticles that can be deposited on any surface.
“We are using nanoparticles which are using a blend of chemistry and electricity to interrupt the surface charges of the viruses instantly and inactivate them just within seconds,” says Dr Reza Saberi, co-founder and executive director of CodiKoat. “Due to their strong bond to the surface, they last effective for the product lifetime. At the moment, we have developed two products which are antiviral adhesive sheets and antiviral face masks in collaboration with well-known UK adhesive sheets and face mask manufacturers.
“We use metal oxide/metals nanoparticles with the particle size in the range of 10-100 nm and these nanoparticles have surface charges which can interfere with the surface charge of viruses and destabilise them within seconds. It’s a coating like a thin film that uses nanoparticles to coat on to different types of surfaces, it eliminates any virus including Covid-19 in seconds, and can stay functional for any surface for one year – the whole of the product’s lifetime.”
The company was started last June and is part of the Accelerate Cambridge programme at the Cambridge Judge Business School, with laboratory premises currently based in the EpiCentre innovation facility in Haverhill.
CodiKoat has a team of 14 based at the EpiCentre, says Dr Saberi.
“Of the team of 14, eight are scientists,” Dr Saberi, a doctor of philosophy, PhD Physics rom the University of Cambridge, says. “Our main lab is at the EpiCentre, and we also have some lab space at the Graphene Centre at the Cavendish Laboratory.”
In terms of fomite transmission, there have long been concerns about what happens at ports, airports and ATMs, where millions of possible sites of infection are potentially activated every day.
CodiKoat is currently collaborating with BDK and Hardshell, which are leading manufacturers of adhesive materials and facemasks in the UK, to develop antiviral/antimicrobial adhesive sheets and facemasks.
Dr Saberi added: “Our unique anti-viral surface coating blends electricity and chemistry to provide simple, immediate and long-lasting protection against microbes and viruses, including Covid-19.”
Dr Saberi incorporated CodiKoat in June 2020, and subsequently joined the Accelerate Cambridge programme, which he says gives “invaluable advice and direction in order to speed up our progress”.
That progress caught the eye of health secretary Matt Hancock last month, when he did a virtual toured the EpiCentre, where vaccinations are also being carried out.
Mr Hancock, who confirmed that touch is a core vector in the transmission of coronavirus, said of CodiKoat’s product: “That’s amazing, I could see the benefit of this immediately including within the NHS.”
The health secretary asked for more details to be sent to him.
Dr Saberi says: “As a result, we were contacted by the Department of Health and Social Care for more information and are connecting with them.
“I think people are starting to get a bit bored of being in quarantine, and they’re not sure how long this pandemic is going to last. We need to do something that can help people get back to a normal life much quicker, so we’re using all our expertise and knowledge to make progress.
“I’m sure this is going to get to the market quickly and will make a big impact on people’s lives.”
An Innovate UK spokesperson said: “Innovate UK runs open competitions offering grant funding for innovative projects. In the past 12 months it has supported hundreds of companies with £550m as part of the UK’s effort to address Covid-19.
“These competitions are independently assessed by experts against agreed criteria. CodiKoat was awarded funding to develop and test technology for an anti-viral coating which has applications for items such as reusable face masks that will reduce plastic waste going to landfill. We think this technology is promising and we monitor the progress of its development closely to ensure best value for taxpayers’ money.”