Australian researchers create anti-COVID cleaning spray

Dr Heather Shewan, School of Chemical Engineering, UQ

A long lasting surface spray that has the potential to kill viruses such as COVID-19 is currently being assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for commercial cleaning use including in hospitals.

The spray contains a protein that allows it to stick to surfaces and remain effective for 24 hours.

University of Queensland (UQ) researchers 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,” said project lead Dr Heather Shewan from UQ’s School of Chemical Engineering.

“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

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

The team, which included virologist Dr Kirsty Short and microbiologist Dr Deirdre Mikkelsen, 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.”

The research, made possible through an Advance Queensland Industry Fellowship grant of $90,000, is gaining international attention.

If approved, the spray would be manufactured on the Gold Coast and potentially exported across the world.

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