The first shipments of a new type of decontamination wipe developed in Galway that could help fight the spread of coronavirus have been delivered to frontline services in Ireland.
Aqulia Bioscience, a startup company based at NUIG, has created a type of wipe that can decontaminate surfaces, removing pathogens such as viruses, without using any chemical agents.
The AntiBioAgent Decontamination Wipes (ABDs) work by infusing the wipes with specific components that causes viruses to stick, and bind, to them.
This week Aquila has started the delivery of their new product to frontline services in Ireland including the Defence Forces, the HSE and An Post.
Professor Lokesh Joshi, the founder of Aquila Bioscience and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said their product was the result of pioneering work with the Defence Forces in countering biological pathogens.
“The hope is by now putting these in the hands of frontline workers, it will allow them to more effectively protect themselves and the people they’re helping in the fight against coronavirus.”
The development of this technology was funded by the European Defence Agency and was conducted in collaboration with the Irish Defence Forces and the Czech University of Defence.
The goal was to create a wipe or mask that could successfully decontaminate multiple different biological threats, including viruses.
Because they do not rely on chemical agents that are harmful to skin, they can also be used on sensitive areas such as eyes, nose and mouth without fear.
Prof Joeshi has described the wipes as being like “living velcro” operating at a nanoscale.
Comdt Sharon McManus from the Defence Forces said that these wipes show the value of long term investment in innovation to combat new threats.
“The personal protection of our key asset, our people, is of the utmost importance to the Defence Forces.”
“The Defence forces have now procured a large quantity of these ABDs and these will be distributed to our troops both at home and overseas for ongoing force protection as well as during the Covid-19 crisis.”
While there is significant demand for ABDs from other international armed forces and healthcare providers, Aquila is currently focused on supplying public service agencies in Ireland.
Prof Joshi added: “As we ramp up our production over the coming weeks we’ll be better able to supply some of the international agencies currently seeking our help in the struggle in their countries, and make this new technology part of the global fight against COVID-19.”