UK research team develops antiviral mask to fight COVID-19 on contact

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Posted at 6:00 PM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 18:17:49-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A team of UK researchers has developed an antiviral face mask that deactivates the COVID-19 spike protein, which means the virus cannot infect a person.

A typical N95 mask, for example, filters out the COVID-19 spike protein. The new material, developed by the team, not only filters the protein but also deactivates it on contact.

It deactivates the protein within 30 seconds with the help of an enzyme.

"Think of them as a hungry mouth where they're changing, pulling, affecting in a negative way for the protein so it can't infect host cells," Ph.D. candidate Rollie Mills said.

Professor Dibakar Bhattacharyya and Mills led the team of UK researchers to develop the new mask. They said the material itself can simply be cut into the shape of a mask or it can slip inside a fabric one.

"And then once it's used up you can remove it and replace it with a brand new one," Mills said.

They said their material is more breathable than other masks on the market. The idea is that wearing it is as pleasant as possible.

"We really wanted to tailor and make a mask as comfortable and useful as possible, so we wanted to tackle all aspects of masks in the modern day," Mills said.

The next step is to develop this material into a commercial product and get it on the market.

The research was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and was recently published in the Nature journal Communications Materials.