Nano funding to fight viruses

A QinetiQ-led consortium has been awarded £2 million by SEEDA to develop a range of nanomaterials to fight a broad spectrum of viruses.

A QinetiQ-led consortium has been awarded £2 million by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) to develop a range of nanomaterials to fight a broad spectrum of viruses.


QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited (QNL), a wholly owned QinetiQ subsidiary, heads up Team AVNP (AntiViral NanoParticles), a consortium of six businesses and academic institutions based in the south east of England. The funding for the two-year programme is SEEDA’s largest single investment in science and technology to date.


The partners will spend the next two years developing the range of nanomaterials which have already proved effective against viruses in initial tests.


Team AVNP partner, Dr Guogang Ren at Queen Mary’s University of London, initiated the concept when he discovered that at the nanoscale, certain inorganic materials kill viruses such as SARS and avian flu on contact. The team will develop combinations of nanoparticles and nanocompounds for application to a range of antiviral products such as face masks, air filters and antiviral coatings, making full use of the larger surface area available at the nanoscale. The programme will optimise the effectiveness of nanomaterials and assess their toxicology for different antiviral applications and manufacture pre-production prototype materials.


The team boasts a unique combination of capabilities in nanomaterials, polymers, toxicology and virology testing that are provided by QNL, BrunelUniversity, Queen Mary’s, and Retroscreen Virology. To develop the applications, the Pall Corporation will provide expertise in filtration and Sun Chemical in coatings technology.


Speaking on behalf of Team AVNP, QNL founder and CTO Dr Paul Reip said, “H5N1 Bird Flu is just one of a number of viruses such as SARS that represent a genuine threat across the globe. There is a long-term requirement for new and innovative antiviral materials that can be applied to products such as facemasks to protect not only frontline staff such as nurses, doctors and paramedics but also the general public.


“Through its most substantial investment in science and technology to date, SEEDA has recognised the strengths of the AVNP team and the potential of nanoparticles to tackle a broad spectrum of viruses.”


Funding for the programme was provided under a SEEDA programme entitled “Emerging Nanomaterial Technologies in the South East Region.” The programme supports new processes and materials in the field of nanotechnology, and specifically the near to market area of nanomaterials.