An anti-viral sticker developed at the Technion that adds protection to surgical masks worn by medical staff is going into mass production in Israel.
The 3D-printed nanotech sticker, dubbed “Maya,” was developed at the prestigious university by a research team led by Professor Eyal Zussman of the Technion’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and under the clinical guidance of Professor Samer Srouji, the director of the Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the Galilee Medical Center in Nahariya. The development of the sticker was first announced earlier this year and was done in collaboration with the COVID-19 National Emergency Team of the Defense Ministry’s Directorate of Defense R&D (DDR&D).
Prof. Zussman began thinking of the idea behind the mask in February when the global pandemic began hitting Israel. “Not only was there a lack of face masks, but medical staff were wearing common surgical masks [to treat contagious coronavirus patients] that you could find anywhere,” he told NoCamels in May.
These surgical masks are typically worn so that the hospital patient can avoid infection by the doctor, he explains. But medical staff have a high risk of contracting the virus.
SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease known as COVID-19, can be transmitted when a person is in close contact (within a meter) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing or sneezing) and is therefore at risk of having his/her mucosae (mouth and nose) or conjunctiva (eyes) exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The surgical masks alone, said Prof. Zussman, “cannot really protect you from coronavirus.”
The “Maya” is printed using a special 3D printing technique developed by the Technion team and is made up of nanometric fibers coated with disinfectants. It is meant to enhance the containment of nanoparticles and effectively neutralize viruses as they touch the mask. The sticker looks like an exaggerated label and is fixed to the outer surface of the medical mask.
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“Droplets are absorbed into the fiber network and the virus is trapped. The sticker has an antiseptic agent. It is coated with a biocide that is released and makes the virus ineffective,” Prof. Zussman explained.
“The main purpose of this sticker is to provide extra protection for medical teams now battling the coronavirus,” said Prof. Srouji said in a Technion video.
The masks have been tested at several medical centers across the country including the Galilee Medical Center, the Rambam Health Care Campus and Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, the Ziv Medical Center in Safed, Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, and the Shaarei Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Now, the “Maya” will be mass-produced after the Technion signed a commercialization agreement with the DYKAM printing plant in Kibbutz Ein Harod in northern Israel, the university announced late last week.
The deal will allow the stickers to be available to Israeli medical staff and the general public with exclusivity agreements in Canada, Japan, and Spain.
The”Maya” has already been approved by the Israeli Health Ministry’s Medical Equipment Division and is in the process of gaining approval from authorities in the United States (FDA) and Europe (CE).
Simona Shemer contributed to this report.