For the last two years, Chilean-North American startup Copper3D has been hacking 3D printing materials by giving them antimicrobial properties to help avoid infections and save lives on a global scale. Now, the innovative company has successfully tested the antiviral capacity of the additive present in all its Copper3D products against a human coronavirus strain. The world urgently needs this type of antimicrobial additives, materials, and solutions slated to save lives, especially as the ongoing global COVID-19 outbreak is nowhere near the end, and has already claimed over 1.3 million lives worldwide since it was first declared as a pandemic in early March 2020.
After 10 years of research and development, Copper3D scientists in Santiago de Chile developed the company’s patented portfolio of additives, materials, and solutions called Cuprionix additives, which are based on the powerful antimicrobial properties of copper. The technology was recently validated by France’s Pasteur Institute after scientists there verified the powerful antiviral action of Cuprionix additives against human coronavirus strains. As it turns out, SARS-CoV-2, the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is inactivated faster using copper and the use of smaller particles can reduce inactivation time from hours to seconds.
The pioneering company along with the renowned French institute decided to test the antiviral capacity of the additive present in all Copper3D products, that is, the Cuprionix additive brand, against a strain of the human coronavirus known as 229E, or HCoV-229E (identified as the second most frequent cause of common cold in healthy adults). The testing was done under the European standard EN14476 + A2 with proven success.
Among what was observed, the additive shows a very high antiviral efficacy capable of reducing the viral load of the coronavirus by more than 99.9% in less than one hour. The process is very quick, in the first 30 seconds, there is already a rapid decrease in the viral load of 60.19%, followed by a 90% reduction after five minutes until reaching a plateau at 60 minutes with a 99.97% viral reduction. Additionally, this additive did not show any degree of cytotoxicity in the test, meaning it is also safe for use in applications for contact with patients or animals.
The elements that finally eliminate this virus (and other microorganisms) effectively are the copper ions released in a controlled manner by the additive, which functions mainly through two mechanisms of action. First, it ruptures the envelope that covers and protects the virus from the external environment, after which, it denaturalizes the viral RNA, which completely inactivates the virus.
According to the company, these analyses support the incorporation of copper alloys or embedded copper materials on sanitary dependences and mass consumption products as a complementary strategy that may help reduce bacterial and viral load, thereby, limiting hospital-acquired infections and reducing the transmission of the disease from touching surfaces (where COVID-19 can live up to 72 hours).
“Laboratory validations with viruses have a much higher degree of complexity due to the additional safeguards that must be taken, the type of equipment and highly specialized personnel to perform this kind of tests, and the laboratories prepared for this type of studies are not commonly found as they require high biosafety levels,” said Copper3D’s Medical Director Claudio Soto. “As a company, we are always looking for our materials to meet the highest industry standards.”
The Copper3D team sees a promising future ahead based on the excellent results from its Cuprionix antimicrobial additive technology. In fact, the company’s Director of Innovation Daniel Martínez described it as a “powerful tool” to deal both with human coronavirus threats, as well as a large number of other potentially lethal microorganisms for humans.
“We visualize a very interesting future for our company as the number of applications in the 3D printing world and outside the 3D industry are enormous. In the 3D printing industry, we already have a path that we will complement with new materials in different additive manufacturing technologies, with validated and certified antimicrobial performance. Regarding our Cuprionix additive, it can be combined with a wide range of polymeric materials that are used in the world of industrial manufacturing such as injection molding, thermoforming, or others,” suggested Martínez.
This year, Copper3D had its first experience with antimicrobial injection molding, after developing its new open-source 3D printed Nanohack Maverick mask, the first antimicrobial, reusable, biocompatible, washable, and N99 standard face mask ever designed, which has already been tested in the laboratory. Additionally, in the near term, the company expects to see even more interesting antimicrobial solutions in several industries, including automotive, public transport, even food packaging, office spaces, antimicrobial furniture and surfaces for hospitals, antimicrobial medical devices, products for newborn babies, as well as countless antimicrobial solutions in the world of mass consumer products (such as cell phone cases).
Furthermore, as part of its expansion strategy, Copper3D began a collaboration months ago with Middle East petrochemical giant Petrochem, on a new joint venture to create a company based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that will develop, manufacture and globally distribute Cuprionix antimicrobial additives, materials, and solutions. The brand new business, which will also bear the name Cuprionix, will scale the innovative technology to manufacture antimicrobial additives, materials, paintings, coatings, and applications scientifically validated as antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal.
With its antimicrobial additive now successfully tested against coronavirus disease, Copper3D has been able to validate yet another material against harmful diseases. Having also demonstrated that its antimicrobial filament device inactivates HIV transmission from breastfeeding, in the first experience of this kind done in a laboratory setting. Copper has demonstrated antimicrobial and antiviral properties, and Chilean researchers have proven to be world-leading experts in this field, understanding copper’s potential to kill viruses. Copper3D has particularly managed to harness the material’s potential to kill threatening viruses in innovative novel ways, moving humanity one step closer to incorporating copper in clinical settings and potentially saving lives.
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