Year/Course: 2019-2020, Easter 2020
Project type: Development

Inventors: Dr. Ljiljana Fruk & Leander Crocker, Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology

Dr Fruk and her team have been working on developing flavin derivatives which have high catalytic properties. These can quickly degrade toxic dyes in water and were originally intended to be used in water purification activities. The compounds have been successfully attached to magnetic nanoparticles to enable them to be easily removed from the water after use.

Flavin dyes are also highly potent antiviral agents, and in the current COVID-19 pandemic the research team has been working on repurposing their flavin compounds for relevant healthcare uses. This includes using flavin-titanium dioxide paste and flavin-based aerosols for disinfection catalysed by visible light.

For example, as showed in the following diagram, the compounds could be sprayed onto surgical equipment, medical PPE, or even food packaging which would then be placed in visible light to be disinfected.

The question for the i-Team is to investigate the applications which would benefit the most from such an approach in Africa and elsewhere in the global south. The team will need to look at how disinfection is currently done in hospitals and elsewhere and advise the inventors whether these new compounds have a role to play in the fight against COVID-19. In addition, the researchers are looking for relevant industrial partners who would be able to manufacture and distribute the compounds locally, as well as assist with their development and adoption.