Starve a Fever, Feed a Cold, Paint a Flu?

Coat of paint could halt pandemic

SYDNEY: Our best weapon in the battle against flu infection might be a non-toxic, ‘spiky’ coat of paint, according to U.S. scientists.

“We have designed and synthesised polymers that can be painted onto a material … [and the paint is] able to efficiently kill on contact human pathogenic bacteria and the influenza virus,” said Alex Klibanov from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, USA.

Until now, killing bacteria and viruses has involved using toxic chemicals. This new paint, described today in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, relies on structural properties to destroy the pathogens instead.

The researchers developed a polymer coating that forms spiky structures as it dries. The spikes, which each consist of 12 carbon atoms pointing directly up from the surface, work on the fatty outer envelope of the flu virus “like a needle popping a balloon”, explained Kablinov.

When its protective envelope is destroyed, the virus is rendered inactive. The spikes also kill bacteria, rupturing their cell membrane.

The influenza virus, which attacks the respiratory system, infects five to 15 per cent of the world’s population every year, resulting in about half a millions deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

More wacky science here.


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