Science firm based at The Heath develops face mask filter that kills COVID-19 virus
Spheritech, a bio-science company based at The Heath Business and Technical Park in Runcorn, has developed a replaceable face mask filter that can capture and kill the COVID-19 virus.
Scientist Dr Don Wellings says: Cloth and filter-based masks currently used by frontline professionals actually capture and store the virus. COVID-19 can survive in the mask and filters for many hours in a favourable warm, moist environment and is eventually killed by washing or incineration. The new proprietary replaceable filter invented at Spheritech captures and kills the virus on contact, with an added advantage that the disposable filter is also biodegradable, reducing the burden on the environment.
Spheritech has now been granted funding through Innovate UK to enable further research and development. Dr Wellings says the new filter will be available to the NHS within six months, and to the wider public by the end of the year.
Spheritech currently have a number of clinical trials ongoing in the NHS. These have understandably stalled due to the current pandemic. Re-engineering an existing wound dressing material invented at Spheritech as a face mask filter allows us to continue our goal of saving lives, whilst opening up a new commercial avenue for our business, says Dr Wellings.
He adds: Optimisation of the filter requires some minimal re-engineering and repurposing from being a wound dressing to a face mask filter. The funding will cover the laboratory work required at Spheritech, the microbiology and the filing of two patents to protect this highly innovative UK based technology.
John Lewis, owner of The Heath Business and Technical Park, says: Spheritech are one of a number of the leading technological research and development organisations based at The Heath. Don Wellings has been undertaking cutting-edge research into medical innovations over many years and this latest breakthrough will contribute massively to protecting staff working in the NHS and in our care communities.
Innovate UK received over 8,600 applications for grants from a £40m Government investment pot to drive forward new technological advances. Spheritech was one of 800 successful applicants.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: The coronavirus crisis has created challenges that impact the way we live, work and travel but has also prompted a wave of new innovations as businesses look at ways to solve some of the challenges facing our world today. This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long-term sustainability of these businesses.
The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider £1.25 billion investment package for innovative UK business announced by the Chancellor on April 20th.
SpheriTech conducts research on numerous pioneering programmes including revolutionising the way physicians repair joints, with a particular focus on repair of hip lesions through regenerative medicine. The company has also developed polymers for bone repair and spinal cord repair as well as developing a unique artificial blood from its research laboratory at The Heath.
About The Heath
The Heath Business and Technical Park is a phenomenal regeneration success story. Formed in 2000, its owner and operator, SOG Ltd, has transformed a once single occupancy corporate facility into a thriving independent business park. The Heath now provides office and laboratory accommodation for more than 120 individual organisations, ranging from business services and IT specialists to those at the cutting edge of science, research and advanced manufacturing. Around 2,000 people are employed at the site. For further information, telephone 01928 515988 or visit www.theheath.com
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PAUL SMITH ASSOCIATES
27th May 2020