Spread of Covid-19, similar illnesses can be checked by deploying plasma-based disinfectant

Indian scientists develop plasma-based disinfectant generated with the help of cold atmospheric pressure plasma that could act as green decontaminant for Covid-19.

The Covid-19 era has led to path-breaking research, with healthcare professionals and scientists working toward putting an end to such illnesses caused by unknown viruses. Among the many research projects that have made the healthcare sector extremely hopeful has emerged in India, at the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences divisions from the Institute of the Advanced Study in Science and Technology (IASST), an autonomous research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), at its Guwahati centre.

Researchers have developed a plasma-based disinfectant generated with the help of cold atmospheric pressure plasma (CAP) which could act as a green decontaminant for Covid-19.

The Covid-19 pandemic had pushed for an urgent need for decontaminants that can limit the spread of infectious diseases through contact. However, most decontaminants consisted of chemicals which are hazardous for the environment. This had encouraged researchers at the IASST to work towards greener alternatives.

CAP-generated plasma can deactivate SARS-CoV-2 spike protein

The team of scientists including Dr. Kamatchi Sankaranarayanan, Dr. Mojibur R. Khan, and Dr. H. Bailung from the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences divisions of IASST demonstrated that the plasma generated by cold atmospheric pressure (CAP) has the potential to deactivate SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which binds to human ACE2 receptor for inducing viral infection and subsequent Covid-19.

A government communique stated that plasma, the fourth state of matter, makes up most of the universe when produced in controlled conditions in the lab and are termed as Cold Atmospheric Pressure Plasma (CAP). The scientists passed plasma forming gases such as Helium, Argon, and Air through a high voltage electric field, which in turn helped in the formation of a stable plasma with a mixture of ions, and electrons emitting a pink glow of CAP inside the reaction chamber.

This research was published in the international journal of the RSC (Royal Society of Chemistry) Advances. The study revealed that short-lived highly reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS/RNS) generated in the plasma led to complete deactivation of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein occurs within 2 min of CAP treatment. The RT-PCR analysis has also established that CAP can deactivate the RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Cold Atmospheric Plasma environmentally safe

The researchers showed that the CAP, a plasma-based disinfection method is a better alternative to environmentally hazardous chemical-based decontamination methods. The cold atmospheric plasma is environmentally safe, since during the entire decontamination process by plasma treatment, no chemical waste is produced.  It has also been stated that the disinfection method could further be extended for various bacterial or fungal infections.

The research was conducted at the Covid-19 testing and research facility of IASST, which has carried out more than 1.54 lakhs tests till date.

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