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University Spin-Out Launches Pathogen Capturing Technology

University Spin-Out Launches Pathogen Capturing Technology
27 July 2021
 

Working in conjunction with the Defence Forces Ireland and the Czech University of Defence, an Irish medical technology company has developed an innovative Pathogen Capturing Technology.

Aquila Bioscience, founded by Lokesh Joshi, Professor of Glycoscience at the National University of Ireland Galway, is aiming to disrupt the global antibacterial and disinfectant industry with this Pathogen Capturing Technology (PCT).

The product was originally developed to keep first responders safe from biological warfare, but more recently has been adapted to help individuals battling the pandemic, without relying on traditional chemical disinfectants.

 

“The materials we use today to disinfect and decontaminate are 100 years old, the same as they were using during WWII. In the 21st century, we are continuing to rely on harmful chemicals – such as ammonia, chlorine or alcohol – to try and keep us safe.”

 

–Lokesh Joshi

Professor of Glycoscience, National University of Ireland Galway

 

Decontaminating The Skin Safely

 

Joshi set up Aquila Bioscience eight years ago when Ireland’s Defence Forces tasked him with developing a product that protects the military by countering biological agents while allowing forensic analysis.

At the time, military assets globally had no safe way to decontaminate their skin, especially around the face, eyes, nose and mouth in the event of exposure to hazardous life-threatening biothreat agents such as anthrax or ricin. Professor Joshi, a Biochemist with expertise in proteins and sugars, set to work devising an innovative solution capable of safely disarming some of the world’s most dangerous substances.

 

A Challenge to the Toxic Chemical Response

 

Nature protects us every day from microbes that we breathe in all day long and in foods that we eat. We ingest microbes all the time, but don’t get sick, because nature produces a mechanism against them, similar to the way a mother’s milk protects an infant from gut pathogens,” he explains.

"Breastmilk, saliva, tears are all just some of the ways nature protects us on a daily basis. Yet, despite advances in science having given us a clearer understanding of how such substances work, toxic chemicals remain our reflexive response when dealing with contaminants.

“The materials we use today to disinfect and decontaminate are 100 years old, the same as they were using during WWII. In the 21st century, we are continuing to rely on harmful chemicals – such as ammonia, chlorine or alcohol – to try and keep us safe,” he says.

"These ingredients work by destroying cells, which is why they can lead to dry skin, dermatitis or asthma, as well as much more serious conditions.

“If you used them on a houseplant, it wouldn’t last a week."

 

Pathogen Capturing Technology

 

The regular and widespread use of chemical disinfectants have been a central feature of the world's response to COVID-19, in the form of hand sanitiser and treatment sprays. Aquila Bioscience seeks to challenge this reliance.

Joshi and his team developed innovative Pathogen Capturing Technology, which, when applied to a mainly biodegradable cotton wipe, safely removes microbes using nano-scale hooks that simply lift them off our skin, before securely trapping them.

“The Achilles’ heel of any bioagent or pathogen is that it has to attach to something. That’s why our technology is so simple, yet so disruptive,” he explains.

Called Anti Bioagent Decontamination (ABD) Device, it represents a step-change in the way the world approaches biohazards, allowing for the use of mechanical action rather than toxic chemicals to sanitise skin. Aquila Bioscience’s patented solution uses millions of decoys that bind to pathogens, disabling them. COVID-19 saw the company pivot to provide a consumer version, supported by funding from the prestigious European Innovation Council.

Independent testing from NeoVirTech, a French Laboratory, shows it can capture and remove up to 99.99 per cent of SARS-CoV-2 from human skin.
 

Image

Picture: a photograph of a person wearing a mask and holding a bottle of ProShield Mask Spray

 

ProShield Mask Spray

 

The company has now developed a second pilot product based on its signature technology.

The ProShield Mask Spray is designed to be sprayed by the user onto a reusable cloth mask daily. Once there, it captures and neutralises harmful pathogens on the outside of the mask, until it is washed, and the pathogens are then destroyed.

Currently billions of used disposable masks are clogging up not just landfill but rivers and roadsides worldwide. “This isn’t just a health crisis, it’s a climate crisis we are creating for generations to come,” says Joshi.

Picture: a graphic showing a pathogen spore

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 27 July 2021

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