Chitosan is derived from the natural fibre Chitin, a natural structural polymer found in species as diverse as fungi, insects, and shellfish. Pennotec has developed a platform Industrial Biotechnology process for the sustainable production of chitosans, which was developed from the original iCrab process.
Chitosans have natural anti-microbial properties which have seen them used in preservative applications. Certain chitosans are also excellent film-forming polymers and some have found application in the development of novel bioplastic compositions. Chitosans have also been shown to interact with cotton fabric in a way which enhances dye fixation of textiles.
With the support of Innovate UK, Pennotec is working with the BioComposites Centre (link) of Bangor University to exploit these properties and enhance the anti-microbial efficacy. This will be achieved through modification of Pennotec’s chitosans to provide a virucidal effect which has the potential to destroy a broad spectrum of viruses on contact, including the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus.
Pennotec is working with Cardiff University Medical School(link) to evaluate textiles, including PPE, coated with modified chitosans, against the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) coronavirus. This important work is supported through the Welsh Government’s Accelerate programme, which is aimed at building links between industry, academia and medical experts to bring new, exciting innovations to market.