Cecilia Williams (left) and Jill Bieker, two members of the Sandia/K-State research team, test Sandia’s
decontamination formulation. (Photo by Bill Doty)
Full size image available here.
In a series of tests conducted at Kansas State University on Bovine coronavirus (BCV) -- the internationally accepted surrogate for the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus -- Sandia versions of its DF- 200 formulation fully inactivated samples in one minute or less.
Two commercially available versions of the Sandia formulation also were effective in inactivating the virus in the tests.
The team now is pursuing funding to conduct similar tests on the SARS coronavirus itself and hopes to test other emerging viruses such as the avian influenza virus (bird flu). "Flu and other viruses have similarities that give us reason to believe our formulations would be useful for general viral disinfection and decontamination if used for regular cleaning of certain facilities," says Jill Bieker, a Sandia intern currently working on a doctorate degree at K-State.
Active for days
Recent research suggests that the SARS virus can remain active on contaminated surfaces for days, and health officials speculate that places where infected people congregate, such as airports and hospital wards, might have served as "superspreaders" during the SARS outbreak.
The Sandia/K-State researchers believe that cleaning facilities with chemicals proven to inactivate the virus might significantly blunt an outbreak and possibly prevent regional epidemics from becoming worldwide epidemics.
To give researchers enough scientific confidence that the formulation would reliably stamp out SARS regardless of the circumstances, the Sandia/K-State team tested the formulations against BCV using cell culture methods with and without organic material present. Organic materials such as soil and feces may improve the survival rate of coronaviruses and can react directly with the disinfectant to make it less effective.
They also used diluted concentrations of the formulation, down to 10 percent of normal, and altered recipes of the formulation with similar results.
The Sandia decontamination formulations can be deployed as a foam, fog, mist or spray, meaning they could be sprayed on walls or dispersed as a fog throughout the air-handling system of a building, says Cecelia Williams of Sandia.
The work to inactivate SARS is part of a larger Sandia program to develop a toolkit of technologies useful for responding to future infectious disease outbreaks. The program includes research to model airflow and predict the transport of airborne chemical and biological agents through buildings or aircraft.
Currently no disinfectant products are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) specifically for killing the SARS virus on surfaces. Kansas State University is a comprehensive, research, land-grant institution serving students, the people of Kansas, the nation and the world.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time.