Chemists to develop crab shell-based coating for PPE and medical devices

North Wales-based company Pennotec (Pennog Limited) is working with experts at Bangor University to develop a unique coating that has long-lasting virus-destroying properties.

A material derived from waste crab-shells is being tested for use as a virucide.

The company aims to produce coatings for PPE and medical devices, which could prevent the spread of coronavirus.

This would provide a range of innovative products that not only protect against coronavirus but would also kill any virus coming into contact with the coated materials.

Working with chemists at the University’s BioComposites Centre, Pennotec have modified chitosan, the chemical derived from crab shells, into naturally anti-microbial materials for the healthcare sector that will help reduce the risks of contamination from viruses.

Once the chitosan-based coatings have been developed, their effectiveness against viruses, particularly coronaviruses, will be tested in the laboratory.

Partners Pennotec and Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre are working on the development, having won funding from the heavily subscribed UK Government (Innovate UK) funding call ‘Business-led Innovation in response to global disruption’.

As a highly innovative Welsh company, Pennotec has further developed an important collaborative partnership with virology experts and clinical laboratory facilities at Cardiff University.

The project, supported by the Accelerate Programme at the School of Medicine’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator, will evaluate the antiviral properties of Chitosan-treated products against COVID-19 associated coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Accelerate is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Government.

Dr Viacheslav Tverezovskiy explained: “The University’s BioComposites Centre has a track record of developing chitosan and this is underpinned by our work on smart food packaging, where we have learnt how to attach antimicrobial compounds to the surface of materials.

"This gives us a head start in the development and is one of the reasons why our collaboration won this very competitive funding.”

Dr Jonathan Hughes, MD of Pennotec says, “We are very excited about this new application for our chitosans. Our business is focused on developing natural products from wastes that have benefits to health, society and the environment. Medical materials are a new departure for us.”

Although there are lots of companies working to develop new anti-viral compounds, chitosan is a natural material in this arena,” explained Dr Slava Tverezovskiy of the University’s BioComposites Centre. “We have been working with Jonathan on chitosan for many years,” he added.

Source: Bangor University

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