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HeiQ & Xefco unveil antimicrobial textiles

Dec 26, 2020
HeiQ & Xefco unveil antimicrobial textiles

Australian-based materials science and technology start-up, Xefco, in collaboration with Swiss textile innovator HeiQ, has launched XViroblock, the world’s first thin-film antimicrobial copper surface treatment for textiles proven to exhibit significant viricidal activity against SARS-CoV-2 after only five minutes.                    

Studies conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) showed textiles finished with XViroblock inactivated SARS-CoV-2, with significant inactivation occurring within five minutes of direct contact. 

By developing textile treatments that provide rapid viricidal and antibacterial functionality, Xefco hopes to reduce transmission of disease by reducing the persistence of pathogens on treated surfaces.

“The antimicrobial properties of copper are well-established. Our technology harnesses these incredible attributes through our unique process of applying an ultra-thin surface coating of the metal onto textiles,” said Tom Hussey, CEO and Co-Founder, Xefco.

“XViroblock can be applied to hydrophobic materials that are difficult to treat via conventional textile finishing methods. This unlocks new applications in personal protective equipment, medical textiles and air filtration aiding the defence against COVID-19. XViroblock may help reduce the transmission of infectious viruses particularly in applications where materials may not be replenished quickly or easily such as PPE used by front-line healthcare workers and air filters on planes and restaurants,” continued Hussey.

Researchers from the Doherty Institute exposed XViroblock treated textiles to known infectious concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 for incremental periods of time before extracting and measuring the remaining infectious virus titre. The testing proved a statistically significant reduction in infectious virus titre within 5 minutes of exposure, compared to untreated textile. Further studies conducted also showed that the treated fabrics significantly degraded the SARS-CoV-2 genome in a treatment concentration and time of exposure dependent manner.

Xefco specialises in innovative thin-film coating technologies for the textile industry offered to outdoor apparel, fashion and home textile markets. At the onset of the pandemic, the business identified an opportunity to leverage its existing proprietary coating technologies and developed a process to apply a thin-film surface coating of copper onto textiles. The company has since shown efficacy of its technology against viruses including SARS-CoV-2, influenza A virus subtype H1N1, Human Coronavirus 229E and also bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae.

“Studying antiviral properties of materials and treatments like XViroblock is a key part of our ongoing research that aids the fight against COVID-19,” said Dr Julie McAuley, Senior Research Officer at the Doherty Institute. “Our experimentation proves the XViroblock treated fabrics exhibit significant viricidal activity against SARS-CoV-2” Dr McAuley added. 

“With XViroblock technology, we can now start to consider surgical masks and gloves as not only mechanical barriers, but as a tool to kill viruses and other infectious pathogens quickly where minutes actually count,” concluded Hussey. 

XViroblock treated textiles have also been tested by an independent ISO 17025 accredited laboratory according to the ISO 18184 standard. Treated fabrics tested against influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and Human Coronavirus 229E showing a reduction of infectious virus present on the textiles of 99.95 and 99.9 per cent respectively.

Xefco is collaborating with HeiQ Materials AG, Switzerland, a global leader in antimicrobial fabrics and textile chemicals to develop and manufacture XViroblock materials. Xefco has a long-standing collaborative history with HeiQ and is preparing to manufacture materials for use in Face Masks, PPE and other other protective equipment.

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