Berlin, 05.10.2022. An EU research project led by the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und -prüfung (BAM) and the University of Birmingham is developing nanocoatings that inactivate viruses and bacteria. This should prevent contact infections via surfaces and thereby increases health protection. The STOP (Surface Transfer of Pathogens) project involves 15 European partners from industry and academia.
Surfaces in highly frequented areas, such as door openers or handles in public transport, door handles in doctors' practice or PIN pads at ATMs can promote the transmission and spread of viruses or bacteria. This can have dangerous consequences, especially for older people, small children and those with previous illnesses. Nanocoatings applied to surfaces should restrict these transmission routes in the future.
"Outbreaks of highly infectious pathogens such as noroviruses, E. coli or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) have shown how important it is to interrupt transmission chains," says Frank Schreiber, coordinator of the project at BAM. "In our project, we want to combine modern nanotechnologies with innovative materials to develop surface coatings that protect us from pathogens that are mainly transmitted via surfaces.", adds project coordinator Prof. Artemis Stamboulis from the University of Birmingham.
The project will develop various substances that enable highly flexible and durable coatings, have a broad spectrum of antiviral and antimicrobial properties and avoid the development of resistance. The focus is on nanoparticles and antimicrobial peptides, i.e. protein molecules that are also naturally produced by living organisms to defend themselves against bacteria. In addition, it will be investigated whether the antiviral and antibacterial effects can also be achieved via nanoscale surface modifications of high-touch materials and whether such nano-structures can be combined with chemical modifications to enable even better protection.
The efficacy of the nanocoatings will be investigated both in the laboratory and under real-world conditions, e.g. in nursing homes. New test methods will be developed, which then should lead to new standards for antiviral and antibacterial testing of high-touch materials. In addition, safety aspects of nanomaterials will be examined in detail through studies on human and environmental toxicity and life cycle analyses.
The project will run until August 2026 and the first results are expected in February 2024.
Further information on the project can be found at http://stop-pathogens.eu.
This article was first published on 5 December by BAM.