DETROIT – Researchers are working to develop cloth that could inactivate or repel coronaviruses—ideally including the one that causes COVID-19—and other pathogens.

People can transfer infectious particles to their hands if they touch the front of a mask during use or when they remove gowns or other PPE, according to Chandan Sen, director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering at Indiana University.

He and his colleagues have been developing a way to render those particles and other infectious agents harmless. The team researches “electroceutical” materials that wirelessly “generate electric fields across the surface of the fabric,” Sen says. Those fields can disrupt the behavior of bacteria or viruses on the cloth.

The researchers co-developed the material with the biotechnology company Vomaris Innovations in 2012. Last year they showed that the technology could be used to treat bacterial biofilms in wounds. A clinical trial is underway to further evaluate the fabric’s effectiveness as a Food and Drug Administration–cleared dressing for wound care, Sen says.

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