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2006 Nano Biz...in depth... im detail


Antiviral nanoparticles programme to address epidemics

Consortium led by QinetiQ Nanomaterials Ltd wins £2m funding

A consortium led by QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited (QNL), a wholly owned QinetiQ subsidiary, is to develop a range of nanomaterials for use in the fight against a broad spectrum of viruses, it was announced today.  The two year programme is being funded by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) which has allocated £2m to the project, their largest single investment in science and technology to date.

Team AVNP (AntiViral NanoParticles) is a consortium of six businesses and academic institutions based in the south east of England.  The partners will spend the next two years developing the range of nanomaterials which have already proved effective against viruses in initial tests. 

The initial concept was formulated by Dr Guogang Ren at Queen Mary's University of London who discovered that at the nanoscale, certain inorganic materials kill viruses such as SARS and avian flu on contact.  Team AVNP, of which Dr Ren is a partner, will develop combinations of nanoparticles and nanocompounds for application to a range of antiviral products such as face masks, air filters and antiviral coatings, making full use of the larger surface area available at the nanoscale.  The programme will optimise the effectiveness of nanomaterials and assess their toxicology for different antiviral applications.  In addition Team AVNP will restructure the production processes of nanomaterials with the aim of delivering pre-production prototypes. 

Key to the programme is the team's unique combination of capabilities in nanomaterials, polymers, toxicology and virology testing that are provided by QNL, Brunel University, Queen Mary's, and Retroscreen Virology Ltd.  To develop the applications the Pall Corporation will provide expertise in filtration and Sun Chemical in coatings technology.   

Speaking on behalf of Team AVNP, QNL founder and CTO Dr Paul Reip said:  "H5N1 Bird Flu is just one of a number of viruses such as SARS that represent a genuine threat across the globe.  There is a long term requirement for new and innovative antiviral materials that can be applied to products such as face masks to protect not only frontline staff such as nurses, doctors and paramedics but also the general public. 

"Through its most substantial investment in science and technology to date, SEEDA has recognised the strengths of the AVNP team and the potential of nanoparticles to tackle a broad spectrum of viruses.

"The AVNP programme represents a new chapter in the ongoing story of the nanotechnology revolution.  Most of the current applications of nanotechnology involve nanopowders, for example using the properties of UV absorption to give UV resistance in sunscreens.  This project will exploit additional properties that materials have at the nanoscale to tackle real world crises such as pandemics."

Funding for the programme was provided under a SEEDA programme entitled "Emerging Nanomaterial Technologies in the South East Region".  The programme supports new processes and materials in the new field of nanotechnology, and specifically the near to market area of nanomaterials.



About nanotechnology :

Nanotechnology is the science of building useful items from smaller and smaller blocks, manipulating material on the scale of atoms and molecules.  A nanometre is one billionth of a metre, for example normal office paper is about 100,000 nanometres thick.

One early application for nanomaterials is cosmetics.  For example, some sunscreens use nanoparticles of zinc oxide which absorb ultra-violet rays but leave the formulation clear rather than white.  The next stage in nanotechnology exploits the unusual properties of nanoparticles, creating products from the bottom up. 

About Team AVNP :

Dr Paul Reip is founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of QinetiQ Nanomaterials Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ.  QNL built the UK's first specialist large scale nanomaterials production facility.  QNL with its R&D and production capacity is partnering with industry leaders to explore how nanomaterials can make their products better and their business more competitive.

Professor John Oxford is Scientific Director of Retroscreen Virology Limited, Europe's leading virology research company.  He is also Professor of Virology at St Bartholomew's and the Royal London Hospital, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry. 

Dr Peter Allen is a Director of the Wolfson Centre for Materials Processing at Brunel University, a leading expert on materials processing, polymers, injection-moulding and extrusion. 

Dr Guogang Ren is a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer working on the processing of polymer and ceramic composite materials in the Department of Materials, Queen Mary's University of London.

Mike Leonard heads up Sun Chemical's recently formed research group developing active and intelligent coatings for packaging.  He will take on the development of antiviral coatings at their European research laboratories in Kent.  Sun Chemical, the world's largest producer of printing inks and pigments, is a leading provider of materials to packaging, publication, coatings, plastics, cosmetics and other industrial markets.

Pall Corporation is the largest and most diverse filtration, separations and purifications company in the world. With total revenues of $1.9 billion, Pall provides leading-edge products to meet the demanding needs of customers in biotechnology, pharmaceutical, transfusion medicine, semiconductor, water purification, aerospace, air protection and broad industrial markets. The Company headquarters is in East Hills, New York with extensive operations throughout the world; its UK operations are headquartered in Portsmouth.  As a materials science and engineering company Pall has a large in-house library of proprietary membranes that can be modified or treated to separate, selectively capture or remove even the most frustratingly elusive contaminants. "Smart" filters that stop specific contaminants, yet allow desirable fluid components of equal size to pass through, illustrate the complexity of the problem, and the sophistication of the technology that Pall can bring to Team AVNP.  David Corkill, Senior R&D Executive,  represents Pall's Life Sciences and Industrial R&D groups which bring with them many decades of materials science and engineering expertise in virocidal performance, in-process stability, migration, leachability, light and thermal stability characteristics of successfully supplied filtration solutions.  For more information on Pall Corporation, see www.pall.com .

Further details are available on the Team AVNP website at www.avnp.co.uk .

About SEEDA:

SEEDA is the Government funded agency responsible for the sustainable economic development and regeneration of the South East of England - the driving force of the UK's economy. Our aim is to create a prosperous, dynamic and inspirational region by helping businesses compete more effectively, training a highly skilled workforce, supporting and enabling our communities while safeguarding our natural resources and cherishing our rich cultural heritage.  For more information on SEEDA, please visit www.seeda.co.uk.


Team AVNP: David Bishop, Media Relations Manager at QinetiQ on tel: +44 (0)1252 394573 / 07920 108675 or at email: djbishop@QinetiQ.com.

SEEDA: Ally Charles, SEEDA PR & Marketing Manager on tel: 01483 484200 or at email: allycharles@seeda.co.uk.


David John Bishop
Media Relations Manager, Group Marketing

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