With flu season upon us, scientists are reporting the development of a new material for face masks, air conditioners and air cleaning filters that captures influenza viruses before they can get into people’s eyes, noses and mouths and cause infection.
A new report in the journal Biomacromolecules unveils a new approach, which uses a substance termed chitosan made from ground shrimp shells, that could help reduce the numbers of people killed or sickened by influenza worldwide, which is estimated at 300,000.
To battle this modern-day scourge, Xuebing Li, Peixing Wu and their colleagues combined chitosan with substances that the flu virus normally attaches to in order to infect cells. They found that this new version of chitosan was ideal for attaching to fibers of face masks and air filters and was highly effective in capturing the flu virus.
Their conclusion states:
“This preliminary work sets the stage for further developments of the materials in real world applications such as drugs and filters for control of influenza and, more importantly, provides an appealing approach for presenting carbohydrate on chitosan backbone. In particular, chitosan offers a safe and effective molecular platform that can be employed as the carrier of proteins, nucleic acids, and drugs. The unique characteristics of chitosan-based systems enable a wide range of applications especially in biomedical fields where, for example, the effectiveness has been demonstrated by biosensing and delivering drugs such as insulin and progesterone. We believe, in addition to the explorations of control measures against influenza, the present study is also of practical value in extensive medical development such as diagnosis and drug delivery. Currently, more extensive and in-depth bioevaluations of the SL-modified conjugate as well as the fiber is being pursued, and efforts are ongoing to develop these promising materials for real world applications.”
Source: American Chemical Society