Reducing the Infectivity of SarsCov2 on PPE gowns used in heaLthcare Environments (RIPPLE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Medicine

Abstract

Reducing the Infectivity of SarsCov2 on PPE gowns used in heaLthcare Environments (RIPPLE)

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant and far-reaching effects for everyone. While we now have effective vaccines, some people are still vulnerable to the coronavirus and especially to its variants. In particular, people who have immune systems that do not function well, or the very elderly and very young in hospitals and health or social care settings are still at risk.

One of the major ways we can reduce the risk of infection is by wearing personal protective equipment, such as gowns and masks. However, when healthcare staff are looking after a COVID-19 patient, these items become contaminated with virus. Taking them off can result in viruses being shaken off and contaminating the environment or being breathed in by other people. This could lead to further infections.

Our idea is to make PPE gowns specifically sticky to the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2). By doing this, the virus will be held on the gowns for disposal in clinical waste bins, rather than being released into the healthcare environment or breathed in. By reducing the amount of virus available to infect people, we hope this will reduce the risk of COVID-19 for those who are particularly vulnerable to infection.

To do this, we are working with industrial partners to create small molecules (ligands) that are designed to stick to a part of the virus surface (spike glycoprotein). We will create lots of ligands and use a safe virus with the same spike glycoprotein (lentivirus vector) to find out which ones stick the best.

When we have chosen the best ligands to work with, we will see which ones can be attached to the materials used in PPE gowns. We will then make sure these still stick to the lentivirus vector by looking at how long and how strongly they bind.

Finally, we will use the specialised facilities at the University of Leeds to see how the new sticky materials perform with live SARS-CoV-2 virus to make sure they will work well in the real world.

Our industrial partners, Astrea and NIRI have a lot of experience with making ligands and specialised materials on large scales, so that the ligand-material combination that successfully binds SARS- CoV2 can be produced in large quantities and reach staff in the health and social care sectors as soon as possible.

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