COVID-19: Pune scientists prepare a silver and neem sanitiser based on the ancient science

Pranita Roy
Thursday, 16 April 2020

A team of scientists from Pune’s Symbiosis Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SCNN) and Symbiosis School of Biological Sciences (SSBS) have developed a technology based on the novel compound synthesised in the laboratory, which is an antimicrobial coating, using an ancient ‘nuska’.

Pune: A team of scientists from Pune’s Symbiosis Centre for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (SCNN) and Symbiosis School of Biological Sciences (SSBS) have developed a technology based on the novel compound synthesised in the laboratory, which is an antimicrobial coating, using an ancient ‘nuska’.

The team consists of Professor Atul Kulkarni, Prem Pandey, Pooja Deshpande, Anil Thormote, Mandar Shirolkar, Yogesh Patil and Amit Kumar Tiwari. They have suggested that the antimicrobial coating solution can be used on Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) kit materials such as masks, gowns, gloves, face shields that are being used by medical staff combating coronavirus diseases (COVID-19).

Pandey who spearheaded the research had started working on it with his team in January 2019. He said, “I follow a lot of ancient science, where we try to find molecules from nature. We found that silver and neem have a lot of antimicrobial properties. A lot of research has on these two resources, and we decided to combine them to enhance the property. We made a nano-material by combining silver and neem. 

“One of the scientists from SSBS suggested that we should try it on viruses to check how these antimicrobial properties work on them. Since our facility is not like the National Institute of Virology, we are only entitled to test on mild infectious viruses and not extremely infectious viruses like COVID or swine flu. We tested it on Newcastle disease virus in this condition humans develop mild flu-like symptoms and conjunctivitis, thus containing its spread. The coating passed the test excellently,” said Pandey.

The scientists then went on to experiment on bacteria as well. “When you suffer diseases like COVID, your body tends to catch secondary infections -- like different bacterial infections due to low immunity, which can lead to more severity of the condition. So we tried on eight-nine pacsin bacterias, and it worked well,” he added.

Pandey also stated that hospital-acquired infections are one of the major problems across the world. 

“There some bacterias that develop a film on medical-surgical instruments which don’t die easily. The water-based composition can be used to coat medical surgical instruments and other medically important tools. It effectively disrupts strong Listeria monocytogenes biofilm, a major source of hospital-acquired infection worldwide,” he said. 

Enhancing safety
The coating can considerably enhance the safety of the medical staff and possibly eliminate the chances of COVID-19 infection from the patients. The formulation displays excellent biofilm inhibition and disruption activity, stated the scientist.

Pandey also added that this solution could be applied on masks, gloves, doorknobs, etc. to keep it bacteria-free. It can work as a component to sanitisers or act as sanitiser and disinfectant.

During the research, it was observed that the formulation was also effective in destroying various pathogens such as Micrococcus luteus, Listeria monocytogenes, Acinetobacter baumannii, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus mirabilis, Escherichia coli and Klebsiellia pneumonia, added the scientists.

Scientists have filed proposal to seek Indian patent for the said composition at Indian Patent Office, Mumbai Branch.

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