Updated: Dec 7, 2020
U-Earth’s Bioreactors Capture and Destroy SARS-CoV-2 - and Allow for Rapid Testing
After an extensive nine months of testing in hospitals that have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis, we are very proud to announce that U-Earth has had a new paper published and are finally able to disclose the groundbreaking results. The latest third party scientific publication - a look into U-Earth’s bioreactors and their performance in Italian hospitals - is particularly exciting because it looks at how the bioreactors helped during the height of the pandemic in March and April, and how they can help organisations fight the exponential trend of the pandemic and take prompt actions in future. Interested in the results? Let’s take a look at them below.
The key findings are hugely encouraging for the possibility of monitoring and early detection of the virus
U-Earth’s AIRcel bioreactors were found to capture and destroy SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. In addition, the lab work required for this discovery has led to the creation of the U-Alert protocol, a rapid antigen test which can inform the user in less than 15 minutes whether or not SARS-CoV-2 particles are present within its environment - one more tool to control the virus diffusion and detection, which is now available to every company hosting a Pure Air Zone.
As part of our continuous testing, U-Earth is always looking to conduct more field research and studies where possible. The objective of this study was to investigate if U-Earth AIRcel bioreactors were effective in monitoring and improving air quality via detection, capture, and destruction of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, reducing the risk of transmission among healthcare workers. The results are eye-opening as they show U-Earth technology actively aiding Italian hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic. On a broader scale, the paper indicates that the U-Earth solution could be a powerful tool to empower organisations to take early stage actions, which will cap and limit the increase of the ‘Rt’ transmission rate.
The full paper by Roberto Marchetti, Martina Stella, Debjyoti Talukdar, and Rosaria Erika Pileci can be read here, offering a positive contribution to our understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how its effects can be mitigated.
Implications for private and public organisations: life against death
What does this mean for the general public? It shows that a single action can have a vast impact on decreasing the exponential growth of the pandemic. The U-Earth solution can reduce the transmission of the virus to healthcare workers serving COVID-19 infected patients, by simply plugging the bioreactor into hospital walls, constantly collecting water samples and - if traces of SARS-CoV-2 are found - testing all staff and promptly isolating anybody who tests positive. The same approach applies to schools, where entire classes could be monitored for early detection of the virus. Or to corporate offices. Or shops. Or industrial plants. The more the solution is adopted, the bigger the impact, and on a larger scale.
The aim is to provide a tool for businesses and public institutions to regain control by stopping the spread of the virus through a combination of destruction and early detection, in order to avoid unnecessary (and unaware) circulation of asymptomatic 'super spreaders', significantly limiting the impact at the source of a hot spot.
San Raffaele Hospital, Milan
More highlights of the publication
To make it easier to understand from a business perspective, we have summarised the key findings.
SARS-CoV-2 virus traces were captured by U-Earth air purifier bioreactor units placed at several hospitals in Italy.
This means that U-Earth bioreactors, which were placed in three hospitals in northern Italy, managed to attract SARS-CoV-2 viruses that were floating within the environment. The U-Earth bioreactors use molecular charge attraction, a biophysical principle based on the machine’s ability to capture all contaminants of any type and any size by grounding them to the unit and leveraging their natural electric charge, thus creating a Pure Air Zone around the bioreactor. The particles are also constantly being drawn towards the bioreactor because of Fick’s Law of Diffusion, which describes how particles under random thermal motion tend to spread from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration (e.g. perfume particles sprayed in one corner of the room will quickly reach the other side).
AIRcel bioreactors achieved early detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus within the environment via rapid biomonitoring testing.
This finding refers to the process through which we were able to come up with our brand new U-Alert system. Due to COVID restrictions, scientists could not access the bioreactors in the hospitals so healthcare professionals within the building collected water samples for U-Earth, which were then taken to the lab, whereupon the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the water samples was detected (through RT-PCR analysis). The aim was to study the efficiency of the air purifiers specifically for the capture and destruction of SARS-CoV-2, something impossible to do in a lab because of health hazard restrictions that instead enforce the use of surrogates or pathogens with similar behaviours. This was for a unique research opportunity for the U-Earth team.
Water samples were collected in three different sessions in each one of the three hospitals from a total of thirty units, and sometimes the virus was present. Other times it was not. We conducted lab work (in vitro) on the collected samples and found that U-Ox was actually digesting the SARS-CoV-2, which meant we could explain the results found in the hospitals; where SARS-CoV-2 wasn't found in the water it had probably been digested inside the bioreactor. We discovered that while the virus was rendered harmless after capture, traces of its DNA could still be found for some days afterward, suggesting the potential application of the air purifier as a bio-monitoring system as well. Since the virus could be traced in the water of a bioreactor during 24 hours of molecular lab testing, we now needed to find a faster, auto-testing procedure that anyone could use to detect results more quickly.
So we then optimised and tested a rapid antigen test on water samples that had already proven to be either negative or positive to SARS-CoV-2, with the purpose of correlating the same methods used in order to detect the SARS-CoV-2 target for human use at a new environmental level. All the samples gave the same results as the RT-PCR. From this we could understand the great potential of this detection system and developed a protocol which we now call U-Alert.
Similar to a pregnancy test, a few drops from a bioreactor’s water supply can be placed onto the U-Alert rapid specific antigen kit, which can then inform the user in less than 15 minutes whether or not SARS-CoV-2 particles are present within its environment. These results can then be sent to the U-Earth laboratory for further analysis if desired.
If the virus is found in the water of an air purifier located in a Pure Air Zone, it means it was captured from the surrounding air. This suggests that someone with an asymptomatic infection was in the area within the last few days and therefore further testing on the people in contact with the unit must be carried out to avoid further contagion.
Stopping unaware super spreaders has shown to be the most impactful strategy to contain the diffusion of COVID-19 and finally regain control of our lives and businesses. Initiating the U-Alert protocol in Pure Air Zones can increase effectiveness in this regard.
The results are obviously very exciting and the possibilities of these findings are huge. It is now up to you and companies around the world to join us in ensuring a clean environment for all.
Are you interested in becoming a Pure Air Zone ? Learn how here.