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Xefco Launches Antiviral Textile Treatment With HeiQ

Australia-based materials science and technology startup Xefco, in collaboration with Swiss textile innovator HeiQ, has launched XViroblock, the first thin-film antimicrobial copper surface treatment for textiles proven to exhibit significant viricidal activity against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes Covid-19, after only five minutes.

Studies conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity showed textiles finished with XViroblock inactivated SARS-CoV-2, with significant inactivation occurring within five minutes of direct contact. By developing textile treatments that provide rapid viricidal and antibacterial functionality, Xefco hopes to reduce transmission of disease by reducing the persistence of pathogens on treated surfaces.

“The antimicrobial properties of copper are well-established,” said Tom Hussey, CEO and co-founder, Xefco. “Our technology harnesses these incredible attributes through our unique process of applying an ultra-thin surface coating of the metal onto textiles. XViroblock can be applied to hydrophobic materials that are difficult to treat via conventional textile finishing methods. This unlocks new applications in personal protective equipment, medical textiles and air filtration aiding the defense against Covid-19.”

Hussey said XViroblock may help reduce the transmission of infectious viruses particularly in applications where materials may not be replenished quickly or easily, such as PPE used by front-line healthcare workers and air filters on planes and restaurants.

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Researchers from the Doherty Institute exposed XViroblock treated textiles to known infectious concentrations of Covid for incremental periods of time before extracting and measuring the remaining infectious virus concentration. Further studies conducted also showed that the treated fabrics significantly degraded the virus genome.

Xefco specializes in innovative thin-film coating technologies for the textile industry offered to outdoor apparel, fashion and home textile markets. At the onset of the pandemic, the business identified an opportunity to leverage its existing proprietary coating technologies and developed a process to apply a thin-film surface coating of copper onto textiles. The company has since shown efficacy of its technology against other viruses.

“Studying antiviral properties of materials and treatments like XViroblock is a key part of our ongoing research that aids the fight against Covid-19,” said Dr. Julie McAuley, senior research officer at the Doherty Institute. “Our experimentation proves the XViroblock treated fabrics exhibit significant viricidal activity against SARS-CoV-2.”

Hussey said with XViroblock technology, the company can now start to consider surgical masks and gloves as not only mechanical barriers, “but as a tool to kill viruses and other infectious pathogens quickly where minutes actually count.”

XViroblock-treated textiles have also been tested by an independent ISO 17025 accredited laboratory, according to the ISO 18184 standard. Treated fabrics tested against influenza A virus subtype H1N1 and Human Coronavirus 229E showed a reduction of infectious virus present on the textiles of 99.95 percent and 99.9 percent, respectively.

Xefco is collaborating with HeiQ Materials AG, Switzerland, a global leader in antimicrobial fabrics and textile chemicals, to develop and manufacture XViroblock materials. Xefco has a long-standing collaborative history with HeiQ and is preparing to manufacture materials for use in face masks and other PPE.