The Innoflav team is exploring the potential to use a novel vitamin-based compound with antiviral and possible anti-microbial properties to be used as a disinfectant. This is especially relevant in the current pandemic situation, as COVID-19 continues to affect much of the world. The compound has been developed by inventors Dr Ljiljana Fruk and Dr Leander Crocker, who are in the final stages of experimentation after recommendations received through the Development i-Teams programme and presentations.
Innoflav is focusing use of this novel disinfectant in healthcare settings in low- and middle-income countries and have a number of leads in East Africa and India for further market research and possible partnerships, with a goal of developing a product that can be locally manufactured and used as an effective addition to cleaning regimes.
Summary of Technology
The compound used is a colloid formulation consisting of a titanium dioxide core encased in a vitamin layer. It is activated by light, which starts the production of a reactive oxygen species, damaging any present virus particles and possibly other pathogens such as bacterial spores. The compound can be applied as a paste or as a solution via a spray mister to disinfect surfaces, which are then pathogen-free for a longer amount of time than with typical disinfectants currently on the market.
Dr Ljiljana Fruk is a Lecturer and Research Group Leader at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. She is also on the Advisory Board of the University of Cambridge’s Public Engagement. Ljiljana researches the use of synthetic chemistry, molecular biology and various instrumental techniques to design bio-nano elements and hybrid materials for application in catalysis and medicine. Her research and her interest is in the cultural and societal impacts of how new technologies, such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology, can impact the lives of the world’s poorest 3 billion people through the development of novel, robust and affordable medical diagnostic devices and materials for water remediation and disinfection.
Dr Leander Crocker completed his PhD on nanostructured photocatalysts in Dr Ljiljana Fruk’s group focusing on green chemical synthesis. He is now working as a postdoctoral research associate in the same group, looking at the wider applications of photocatalytic materials. Prior to Cambridge, he completed an MChem in Chemistry from the University of Southampton with a six month research placement at the University of Toronto in Professor Andrew Woolley’s group. Outside of the lab, he is a keen lacrosse player and was the co-captain of the Cambridge University Lacrosse Club.
Ella Duffy is a graduate of the MPhil in Development Studies programme at the University of Cambridge, now working in the Secretariat of the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development, based in Cambridge. She is passionate about innovation for development outcomes and has experience working in the UK and abroad for NGOs and charitable foundations. Outside of her professional life, she is a keen rugby player and baker, and can often be found planning her next big travelling trip or move abroad.
Ieuan Best graduated from the University of Cambridge, having studied Human, Social and Political Sciences at Sidney Sussex College. The application of a recent scientific development to address a pressing issue in an accessible manner is what appealed to him most about the Innoflav project. Previously, he worked on a research project focused on professional identity in healthcare and with a number of NGOs including, most recently, Groundwork. In his spare time, he enjoys taking part in any sport, in particular rugby, rowing and cycling.
Sameer Aiyar-Majeed is a second year undergraduate studying Natural Sciences at Robinson college, Cambridge. He has work experience in healthcare and scientific research, as well as in NGOs and businesses in the developing world. He is particularly interested in the intersection of science and development.
Isobel McLeod is currently studying for an MPhil in Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge. She works in a molecular microbiology research group studying the effects of phage on bacterial fitness and virulence. Previously, she completed a degree in Zoology at the University of Exeter. Her academic interests lie in microbiology, epidemiology and the microbiome. Outside of work, she enjoys playing sports, reading and travelling around Europe.
Janka Erdos completed her undergraduate and masters degrees in Human Genetics at University College London and has begun her PhD work in Medical Science at the University of Cambridge. She is a first year student working at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute in Professor Gregory Hannon’s group. In her free time, she enjoys doing any kind of sport, especially ice skating, rowing and sailing. She also likes playing the piano and her ukulele whenever she has time.