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Bangalore startup develops fabric to disinfect against Covid-19, masks as first product


Bengaluru: Infection Shield Technologies (IShield) has developed a fabric, using which it has made an affordable self-disinfecting mask that is effective against the Covid-19 virus, according to the Bengaluru-based startup.

IShield says the reusable and washable mask can kill the Covid-19 virus in 99% of cases.

It has won orders from the Principal Scientific Advisor to the government and is in talks to export the masks to Singapore and other countries, the company said.

Scientists and technologists in India and the United States collaborated to identify a molecule that when applied to the fabric binds on it, enabling it to kill the virus, similar to how soap or alcohol disperses the virus.

IShield has applied for a patent for the process of using the molecule on a fabric, making it disinfect the virus. It is expanding into several fabrics, including PPEs for hospitals.

“Our strength is in science and understanding microbiology. We are also collaborating with experts in textile engineering. Somebody else’s advanced textile can be treated with our science and then that can help in creating PPEs for doctors and other healthcare professionals,” said Anand Anandkumar, founder of BugWorks, who is a mentor for IShield.

The mask has been tested for efficacy at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology, Centre for Cellular and Molecular Platforms (C-CAMP) and the University of South Florida.

“Our focus was not finding a cure (with the mask) but reducing the chances of infection spreading. We were not interested in launching another mask which generically claims to kill viruses. Hence, we put in a lot of effort in creating the experiments that helped prove our central claim to kill the virus,” said Ramaswamy S, Director of Bindley Bioscience Center, Discovery Park, Purdue University, who had earlier set up C-CAMP in Bengaluru.

IShield began work on the mask early this year when the Covid-19 virus was spreading in China’s Wuhan, anticipating that the virus could potentially spread across the world.

“Masks and quarantine were the two basic things that worked in 1918, these are the two basic things that have to work in 2020 until something else happens. Then, we thought, can we create a mask which has an outer and inner layer which is proven to kill Covid-19?” said Jogin Desai, co-founder of Eyestem, a stem cell startup, and one of the collaborators on the project.

Ramaswamy, Desai, Anand Anandkumar, who is also the CEO of Bugworks, Nitish Sathyanarayanan, co-founder of IShield and Robert Deschenes, Professor and Chair, College of Medicine Molecular Medicine at the University of Florida collaborated to identify the molecule that can be used for multiple applications.

The startup said it is a self-disinfecting mask and that there is no need to clear it every day with disinfectant. Rinsing it with warm water would suffice, it said.

“We knew masks do not cure. Our focus was not on finding a cure but reducing the chances of infection spreading. We are still claiming the Covid-19 killing from reducing the spread and there are historical reasons to believe; in physics this concept is called exposing yourself to as low radiation as possible,” Ramaswamy said.

The firm is looking at both government orders as well as retail sales and has partnered with Paramount Cosmetics, which has a retail network of over 50,000 stores across India.





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