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British scientists develop facemask which can kill viruses on contact

A new antiviral facemask which uses nanotechnology to kill viruses including COVID-19 and influenza has been designed and developed by scientists at Pharm2Farm Ltd and Nottingham Trent University.

Instead of the usual three-ply design, the five-ply surgical mask includes an additional antiviral inner layer which incorporates Pharm2Farm’s patented anti pathogenic nanotechnology (GB 2016813.4, 22 October 2020).

On contact with the virus, Pharm2Farms proprietary nanotechnology, which is embedded into the mask material, emits ions that penetrate through the surface envelope of the virus and of destroy the genetic material causing it to die and stop reproducing. The nanotech has a large surface area making the approach more effective at killing the virus without reducing the breathability of the mask. The antiviral inner layer ensures additional protection for both the wearer and those in proximity.

The mask has been designed by Nottingham Trent University scientist and nanotechnology expert, Dr Gareth Cave, and Pharm2Farm’s CEO Dr Karen Davies and is now being commercialised by Pharm2Farm in their new state of the art facilities at Nottingham’s BioCity.
Pharm2Farm has purchased an automated face mask production line, which is on track to be delivered this month (November 2020). The production line, which is manufactured in Europe, has the capacity to produce up to five million anti-viral face masks per month.

Tests showed that the masks, which are Type IIR – meaning they offer the highest level of protection and have a filtration efficiency of 99.98%– were highly effective, at killing more than 90% of the influenza and coronavirus over seven hours, and has been certified to ISO 18184 standards.

The masks include a fluid-repellent layer on the outside – to reduce inhalation of droplets of saliva and mucus that carry COVID-19, the antiviral nanotech layer between two anti-viral filter layers, and a soft hypoallergenic breathable innermost layer.

While current conventional surgical masks block the virus, it can remain on or in the mask while being worn and after it has been disposed of. 

The masks are expected to go into production in Nottingham later this month and will be commercially available before Christmas for keyworkers, including healthcare, transport, and food service settings.

“It’s exciting to see our technology move forward and make a real impact towards the fight against the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr Cave, founder of Pharm2Farm and Principal Lecture in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Science and Technology.

He said: “The mask we’ve developed has been proven to inactivate viruses upon contact; the antiviral layer kills virus which has been blocked by the filter layers. The challenge with conventional surgical-type masks is that they only block virus from entering or exiting the mask. They don’t have an active mechanism for killing it once it’s trapped in the mask.

“Our new antiviral mask has been designed to utilise the existing barrier technology and combine it with our nanotechnology to kill the virus once it is trapped there.

“We’ve added the barrier layer to both sides of the mask so not only does it protect the wearer but also those around. By killing the virus on contact, it also means that the used face mask can be safely disposed of and not be a potential source of passive transfer.”

The masks have been designed and tested following a Government Innovate UK grant, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s response to COVID-19.

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