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Researchers working to create antiviral membrane mask designed to kill COVID-19 on contact

Posted at 9:50 AM, May 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 09:50:56-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. — A group of researchers at the University of Kentucky are working to create a face mask that would better protect people against the coronavirus.

Alumni professor Dibakar Bhattacharyya is leading the team, and he said the mask would be designed to kill the virus on contact. The basic idea is that the enzymes in the antiviral membrane mask would attach to the spikes on the novel coronavirus. Then, the enzyme would separate those spikes, killing the virus.

According to Bhattacharyya, one of the most important features of the mask is that it captures the coronavirus. He said this would decrease the number of particles that are in the air and could be transmitted to others.

He added that the masks would be nontoxic, very thin, and could potentially change colors when coronavirus is detected on their surface.

The National Science Foundation gave researchers at the school a $150,000 grant to create the masks.

"That funding is a challenging grant," Bhattacharyya said. "I'm very happy we got that."

The mask would then be subject to scrutiny and testing to make sure it works properly. There is no definitive timeline for when they would be available to the public.

This story was originally published by Kristen Edwards on WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.