By Sahar Chmais – Hays Free Press
Ghost Brand came up with a technology that would protect against COVID-19 before the virus existed – precisely eight years before. It is not a pill, vaccine or a machine. This technology is treated cloth that decontaminates materials from COVID-19 and microbes.
Viruses were the last thing on the company’s mind when the owners came up with a military-grade idea that would prevent microbes from penetrating clothing. So if a person wears a shirt, socks or any other material treated with their key ingredient, Duritex, the item would defeat the sweat. This prototype was ideal for intensive jobs, such as military personnel.
Like many technology companies, Ghost Brand has moved its manufacturing out of California and into Buda.
While this technology can be useful to those with laborious jobs or those who do not like to sweat through their clothes, its function may soon turn medical. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ghost Brand put its clothes to the test.
The University of Texas Microbiology (UTMB) division in Galveston tested Ghost Brand’s treated cloth. The lab used varying amounts of the virus and compared it with normal clothing items.
Scott Weaver, director at UTMB Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, and his research team found that this material could be useful in treating scrubs and medical clothing to protect medical personnel against the virus. When doctors, nurses and others in the medical field are around the virus for hours on end, the virus is accumulating on their clothing, posing a higher risk for their safety, according to the research.
“It’s very useful to treat Personal Protective Equipment for healthcare workers who are at high-risk exposure from patients who might be coughing or sneezing,” Weaver said.
Weaver’s team put Duritex-treated and untreated cloth in with a sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. After two hours, they could not detect the virus on the treated cloth. Weaver added that even very brief exposure to the material on the fabric “kills quite a bit of the virus.”
The lab then soaked the treated cloth in higher viral loads, and it continued to kill the virus within a few hours. But even the baseline amount of the viral load the experiment used is a higher concentration than people are generally exposed to, Weaver said.
They continued saturating the material for nine days with repeated exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and the results continued to turn up that the virus is below the level of detection.
The research team said that “this technology may also have the potential for use in laboratory PPE such as masks, shoe covers and laboratory coats, or for making self-disinfecting clothing and face coverings for the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Ghost Brand has been selling its clothing but cannot make a medical claim yet until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gives its approval. It may take between four to six months to get the green light from the EPA, said Thomas Danks, director of operations.
While many factors continue to be in play, Ghost Brand has begun another venture in the fight against COVID-19. The company teamed up with an air conditioning company to work on sanitizing indoor air. This would help people regain some normalcy, such as being able to go out to eat, going back to work in an office setting and more, Danks said.
Since the material was tested, SARS-CoV-2 has mutated into multiple different strains.
“We’re continuing to do testing,” Danks said. “Each time the mutation becomes an issue, and we are able to isolate live versions, we will continue to test against that. But the basic science is there. Our product attacks the protein piece of the virus. In theory, it will continue to work against the mutations.”