New Study Examines Role of Antiviral Materials and Coatings in Future Outbreaks

In an emailed news release, The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) (Teddington, England) announced that its scientists, in collaboration with scientists from the National Biofilms Innovation Center (NBIC) (Southampton, England), have developed a comprehensive review of the current state of knowledge in antiviral materials and coatings, including a range of materials, practices, and applications. The NPL-NBIC study was recently published inCommunication Materials.

In their study, the team reviewed a range of natural and synthetic surface materials and coatings with documented antiviral properties, including metals, polymers and biopolymers, graphene, and antimicrobial peptides, as well as a review of the physicochemical properties of surfaces that can influence virus attachment. The study’s findings also provide an overview of the current practices and applications of antiviral materials and coatings in consumer products, personal protective equipment, healthcare, and public settings.

Typically, there is no single solution to prevent the spread of viral infections, and different modes of transmissions only add to the difficulty. Therefore, antiviral solutions often require a multiple-barrier approach, which include procedures, processes, and tools such as high hygiene standards, a through vaccination program, and adequate personal protective equipment.

The study indicates that material science can play a vital role in the development of conceptual and practical measures to slow infectious outbreaks, and that both existing and innovative broad-spectrum antiviral strategies should be considered in combating future viral pandemics.

In addition, NPL is supporting new UK-based manufacturing of face coverings for healthcare workers and the general public. NPL experts are also able to provide guidance on meeting relevant standards, as well as testing products and materials for both standard and novel design to aid design optimization.

“Materials science and technology has an important role in reducing virus transmission,” says Ian Gilmore, head of science at NPL and one of the authors of the study. “This comprehensive review summarizes the latest advances in an accessible form which is hoped will provide a useful resource for research and development scientists in their innovation of new technologies.”

“Many materials would exert both antiviral and antimicrobial properties but until the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of research concentrated, predominantly, on the antimicrobial properties of different surface materials and coatings, with the antiviral properties being studied less frequently,” says Paulina Rakowska, research innovation development manager at NBIC and another study co-author. “A substantial shift in focus can be seen over the past year, towards the understanding of antiviral mechanisms of materials.”

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