By Liz White, Editor
Scientists at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh have recently synthesised a polyurethane/polyacrylate material that could offer a breakthrough in protection from terrorist attacks. The polymers contain functional groups that can deactivate both biological and chemical toxins, as described recently in a paper in the journal Biomaterials.1
Weapons of mass destruction could contain biological agents such as the smallpox virus, or chemicals such as the nerve agent sarin, said senior investigator Alan Russell, professor of surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and director of the McGowan Institute. “That uncertainty calls for a single broad-spectrum decontamination material that can rapidly neutralise both kinds of threats and is easily delivered or administered,” he said.
“Typically, labs engineer products that are designed to serve only one narrow function,” Russell added. “Our lab applies biological principles to create materials that can do many things, just like our skin protects us from both rain and sun,” he added, in a press statement from the Institute.
The team has devised a novel polyurethane fibre mesh containing enzymes that lead to the production of bromine or iodine, which kill bacteria, as well as containing oximes that generate compounds that can detoxify organophosphate nerve agents.
“This mesh could be developed into sponges, coatings or liquid…