Imagine if killing flu viruses and other microbes were as simple as turning on a light.
Exposing a unique surface coating to light may in fact hold the key to protecting you from virtually all viruses and bacteria, including the feared avian flu.
Laboratory testing of a novel, permanent nano-coating, developed in collaboration by researchers at North Carolina State University College of Textiles and Emory University School of Medicine, has been shown to kill or inactivate most viruses and bacteria when exposed to visible light. Early tests have shown that the coating kills 99.9 percent of influenza viruses and 99.99 percent of vaccinia virus, which causes rash, fever, head and body aches.
The coating technology was developed by Dr. Stephen Michielsen, associate professor in NC State's College of Textiles, and Drs. Igor Stojiljkovic and Gordon Churchward, associate professors at Emory University's School of Medicine in Atlanta.
NC State has applied for a patent on the invention, which has been licensed to Research Triangle Park-based start-up LaamScience, Inc. The company whose name stands for Light Activated Anti Microbials has raised more than $400,000 in seed financing from North Carolina angel investors that will enable it to optimize the coating and begin developing product prototypes.
Prototypes will be used in performance trials targeting hospital areas including waiting rooms. The company is also developing a room air purifier that incorporates its nano-coated filter technology. Other potential application areas include anti-viral filter systems for airplanes and businesses, as well as for a variety of uses for first responders and the military, including anti-viral masks. Perhaps equally important, the invention may be used to make everyday objects resistant to viruses and bacteria in the presence of light.