Researchers develop long lasting surface spray with potential to kill viruses and bacteria

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University of Queensland researchers have developed a long lasting surface spray that has the potential to kill viruses such as COVID-19 and potentially deadly bacteria.

The spray contains a protein that allows it to stick to surfaces and remain effective for 24 hours and is being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for commercial cleaning use.

A team led by Dr Heather Shewan from UQ's School of Chemical Engineering set out to create a spray for use on various surfaces to kill COVID-19 and bacteria such as E. coli and staphylococcus aureus.

We used hydrolysed gelatine which essentially helps create a thin film that allows the spray to stick on surfaces and can stay there for at least a day and potentially longer.

This durability means it is over a longer period than a standard cleaner and has the potential to be used in high-use areas such as in public transport, kitchens, hotels, retail outlets, hospitals and public areas."

Dr Heather Shewan from UQ's School of Chemical Engineering

The research has been undertaken in partnership with Australian cleaning product manufacturer OzKleen, with the protein supplied by Beaudesert company GELITA Australia.

Dr Shewan enlisted the help of virologist Dr Kirsty Short and microbiologist Dr Deirdre Mikkelsen to provide the multi-disciplinary expertise required.

The team used several methods to test the spray, which is cost-effective to manufacture, and is not harmful to the environment.

"In one test we sprayed glass surfaces with the cleaner and left it dry on the surface, and after 24 hours we added the COVID virus and further testing showed it did not survive," Dr Short said.

"We also conducted other tests that showed even after rinsing surfaces with water, the spray significantly reduced the amount of virus that was able to survive on stainless steel."

OzKleen CEO Mark Quinn said the spray would be manufactured and produced in Queensland and potentially exported across the world.

"This is a very exciting initiative and the results show this product can be used in public places across the globe and will help to make the world a safer place," Mr Quinn said.

"Not only will this product create jobs and grow the state's economy, it will put Queensland on the world map as an innovator and manufacturer of world-class products."

Queensland Innovation Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said the research was made possible through an Advance Queensland Industry Fellowship grant of $90,000.

"The Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships have a track record of translating research to practical uses for industry, creating good, secure jobs and attracting investment to Queensland," Minister Hinchliffe said.

"Since 2016, we have invested $45 million in six rounds of Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellowships with funding for 197 fellowships.

"Each fellowship creates an average of three jobs per research project and forecasts an average of 12 additional jobs to be created post completion of the project.

"The partnership between the UQ research team, Queensland cleaning product manufacturer, OzKleen and Beaudesert company, Gelita Australia (Gelita) is now gaining international attention.

"Once approved, it will be manufactured at the Gold Coast and has the potential to create up to 30 good, secure jobs for Queenslanders."

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