New technology binds Covid virus to cotton textiles

QUT has developed a technology that is proven to bind and capture the SARS-CoV-2 virus onto cotton textiles in laboratory trials and could prevent people from being infected.

  • QUT scientists have developed a way to trap the virus on cotton and other plant-derived fabric
  • The patented process could be used to prevent virus infections in hospitals and public transport
  • Further research required to confirm complete virus inactivation

A new bioengineered technology that is proven to bind and capture the SARS-CoV-2 virus onto cotton textiles and prevent cell infection has been developed by QUT scientists.

Such is the promise of the new technology, the research team of synthetic biologists Dr Laura Navone and Professor Robert Speight and virologist Professor Kirsten Spann have patented it and published their findings in Communications Materials – Nature

“Our laboratory trials suggest the technology could have infection control uses in many settings,” Dr Navone said.

“This technology could improve re-usable cotton or nanocellulose (plant-derived material) face masks, commercial, hospital and aged care fabrics such as bed sheets, curtains and seat coverings to reduce aerosol circulation and infection,” Dr Navone said.

Dr Laura Navone

“It could be used for clothing for people who work in people-oriented sectors such as emergency workers, supermarket staff or bus driver.

“It could be used in filtration systems on planes, public transport and building air-conditioning.”

Professor Spann said the SARS-CoV2 virus spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor on the host cell it is infecting.

“The system we have developed fuses high-affinity spike protein-binding peptides to a cellulose binding domain that attaches to cotton fabrics. ,” Professor Spann said.

“We have demonstrated, in the laboratory, that the fusion peptides trap the virus onto the bioengineered fabric so they cannot escape and infect mammalian cells.”

Professor Speight said more research was needed to confirm complete virus inactivation on the surface of the bioengineered cotton.

“This technology could be modified to capture and control the spread of other infectious pathogens and be used on different materials by substituting binding domains.,” he said.

“The next steps are to identify commercialisation partners and to investigate capture and kill by combining the peptides with an anti-viral agent, and also test aerosol capture in real-world applications such as face masks or workwear.”

Bioengineered textiles that capture SARS-CoV-2 viral particles was published in Communications Materials – Nature.

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