Engineers, disease researchers moving quickly on a disinfectant against COVID-19

Across Colorado State University’s campus, most research operations have gone quiet in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. But there’s one lab at the Energy Institute’s Powerhouse Energy Campus still working around the clock.

The Rapid Prototyping Lab at Powerhouse has special clearance for a fast-mobilization project launched in direct response to the daily-changing pandemic. Over the last two weeks, CSU engineers and infectious disease researchers have been developing a low-cost sprayable disinfectant that kills SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – and that can be brought to market quickly, thanks to a partnership with Fort Collins design firm Czero.

The core technology for the new disinfectant is based on the same principle CSU disease researchers are currently testing for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus – work also being done at an accelerated pace at the Infectious Disease Research Center. The technology deactivates the virus by rendering it incapable of replicating through a combination of specific wavelengths of light and targeted nucleic acid chemistry.

Those disease research efforts are led by Raymond Goodrich, professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology and executive director of the Infectious Disease Research Center, where testing on the new disinfectant is now taking place.

“What we are attempting to do is see if we can scale up Ray’s technology to do large-scale disinfection of surfaces,” said Bryan Willson, executive director of the CSU Energy Institute and professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. “So think of classrooms, stadiums, auditoriums.”

Existing technology, new application

About two weeks ago, Willson and Goodrich discussed the idea of using Goodrich’s technology, which uses riboflavin, a B vitamin, and ultraviolet light to deactivate pathogens, in a different application: a commercial disinfectant spray. A cleaning product wouldn’t require the rigorous animal and human testing needed for vaccines and drugs, and such a product could be developed and vetted within days at the Rapid Prototyping Lab.

Full story here: