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Crab shell bid to tackle COVID-19

15 September 2020

Crab Shells, Rhossili
Crab shells, Rhossili

Scientists from Cardiff University are working closely with a North Wales company to establish whether a material derived from waste crab-shells can be used in the fight against COVID-19.

Virology experts from Cardiff's School of Medicine have teamed up with Pwllheli-based Pennotec to evaluate the antiviral properties of Chitosan - the chemical derived from crab shells.

Supported by the Accelerate programme through Cardiff's Clinical Innovation Accelerator, the partnership will test whether naturally anti-microbial materials can help reduce the risks of contamination from viruses.

Andrew Cuthbert, Senior Innovation Fellow at Cardiff’s Clinical Innovation Accelerator said "Our aim as an incubator is to nurture partnerships that support the development and growth of the thriving SME cluster in Wales, particularly in the “medtech” sector. Pennotec is a perfect example of a highly innovative company breaking new ground, and we are proud to be working with them on developing novel clinical applications for Chitosan.”

Dr Jonathan Hughes, MD of Pennotec, said: “We are very excited about this new application for our chitosans, and are looking forward to working with Cardiff and Bangor. Medical materials are a new departure for us, but access to highly specialised laboratory facilities and testing expertise through Cardiff’s Innovation Accelerator will allow us to develop natural products from wastes that have benefits to health, society and the environment.”

Pennotec is currently working with Bangor University’s BioComposites Centre to develop a unique coating which has long-lasting virus-destroying properties, following a win through an Innovate UK funding call: ‘Business-led Innovation in response to global disruption.’

The company aims to produce coatings for PPE and medical devices, which could prevent the spread of coronavirus by killing any virus coming into contact with the coated materials.

Co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Welsh European Funding Office, Welsh Government's Health and Social Services group, universities, Life Sciences Hub Wales, and the health boards, Accelerate aims to create lasting health benefits and economic value for Wales.

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