A new solution to prevent spread and to combat SARS-CoV-2 viruses has been developed by a team of scientists and engineers of the ASBIS Group under the supervision of SIARHEI KOSTEVITCH. The science behind this innovation is based on the concept of concerted action of ions of certain metals on the membrane of Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) viruses with no adverse effect on human cells. A device based on a unique two-stage ionization has been created with purpose to prevent spread of the viruses in small, enclosed spaces.
Research and Solution
Our goal was to develop a solution and practical realization of it to efficiently combat the enveloped RNA viruses in air, including the coronaviruses, especially the COVID-19 (1). At the same time, the solution must not have a negative effect on human cells. Research work from the field of nanomedicine conducted from 1970s onwards has been studied and concepts from theoretical physics and chemistry have been applied (2).
A virus is not a living non-cellular infectious agent, or a “flash drive” that is activated only when it is attached to a living animal or human cell. The virus cannot replicate outside the cell. The best conditions for the transmission of viruses are categorized by cool, humid and foggy weather. Viruses, unlike bacteria, are very difficult to destroy, so we were looking for a non-trivial way to fight them.
Coronaviruses are spherical particles with a diameter of approximately 125 nm, with an envelope bilayer in which the membrane (M), envelope (E) and spike proteins are embedded. The coronavirus envelope consists predominantly of M. It is unique among E viruses (3).
Based on studies hypothesis was that groups of ions of certain metals like K- and Pt0, due to the energy concentrated in them, would be attracted to the positively charged outer shell of the membrane leading to a galvanic isothermal reaction. As a result, the ions “burn through” the membrane of the virus, leading to its destruction. Ions of Magnesium are also well known for their capacity to strengthen living cells (4, 5). While studying the compositions of ions that can adversely affect the membrane of the coronavirus, special attention was paid to the platinum group, since the elements of this group (platinum, gold) have a sufficiently high atomic weight and the optimal structure of the electronic shell. Ions with a higher atomic weight (mercury and the next elements in the periodic table) could possibly be more effective, but they are known for their negative effect on organic cells.
The selected composition of the ionic substance includes Na11, Mg12, Ag47, Cl17, H1, Pt78, Au79, I53, K19 among others. The ionic material been produced by exothermic reactions of successive diffusion of substances in the presence of appropriate catalysts using an external energy source. The resulting ionic substance is stable, does not enter into a chemical reaction with water or air and does not evaporate under natural conditions. The ionic material does not solidify and remains liquid at temperatures between -55 and 135 °C.
Complex ions released to air contain among the named elements the OH- radicals. Such ions are supposed also to attract the positively charged outer shell of the virus’ membrane, take the hydrogen or oxygen from it, and let the membrane get destroyed by the isothermal reaction. The reaction, however, is not so simple. Life cycle of ion is very short. However, the ions emitted to air are forced to constantly mutate in space; throughout the entire time, the mutations include various ion groups that create phase potential between the membrane of the virus and the ion that leads to the destruction of the virus. All components of the ionic material are selected to maintain the emitted ions in the environment for as long as possible, without harming any living cells.
The unique technology been developed to place the substance with a composite ionized liquid to a porous structure, to cover it in a shell of a large crystal lattice of a polymer, to make it sufficiently stable for long time and suitable for ions emission. As result when the material is filled to a capsule, the polymer reacts with air, forming a porous structure, which absorbs and contains the ionized substance. The polymer itself is 100% dielectric and does not interfere with the operation of the liquid ionic substance.
The ionized material (stage 1) allows to emit the ion groups to air by applying high voltage but of very reasonable power (stage 2). We use only 10W to apply 14-20kV for ions emission. The tests showed that such power is enough to create 30-34k ions per cubic centimeter in space 50 cm from the device or 15k ions in one meter from the device. It is well more than ions concentration in mountains and very similar level of the concentration of ions in cubic centimeter at bottom of a waterfall.
Singlepolar or bipolar ionization method can be applied to realize second stage of ionization: to put ions to an air. We used bipolar ionization method. For the purpose the ionic gel is placed in two separate parts of a capsule, forming the cathode and anode of the ionic diffuser and few centimeters of air gap between them. When the capsule is filled with the material, the polymer reacts with air, forming a porous material, which absorbs the ionic solution. The polymer itself is dielectric as well and does not interfere with the operation of the liquid ionic substance.
Applying 14kV to 20kV between the anode and cathode allows to create a stable electric arc adjacent to a glow charge formed between the tablets with the gel-formed material. Under the influence of an electric field, plasma is formed inside the ion gel and ions are emitted, moving into the fourth state of matter. The ionic plasma is not accumulated at the cathode nor at the anode but escapes from its source and diffuses into the external environment.
One of the key advantages of our solution is that it does not emit ozone. Level of it is below the upper threshold of the safety regulations, as has been confirmed by numerous tests. Unlike ozone generators, ultraviolet and quartz lamps, the devices based on our solution can be used continuously in presence of humans at homes, offices, production sites, cars, taxis and public transport (buses, minivans, trains, metro).
Results of tests to prove the concept
To conduct laboratory testing on a highly pathogenic RNA virus, in our case, SARS-CoV-2 we turned to the independent microbiological laboratory of level 3, which is appropriately certified and possesses the pertinent licensing, skills and knowledge for the performance of such tests. For correct testing, it is necessary to artificially grow the SARS-CoV-2 on special substrates, then infect flat epithelial cells, similar to those that line the bronchi, with this virus, since they are most often exposed to the COVID-19 virus (7). L929 cells been used for the tests. The Cytopathological Effects (CPE) method was applied, as the mass of dead cells is much lower than the mass of living cells, meaning that dead cells can be separated by centrifugation. After that, the number of living cells remaining on the plate was counted. It must be noted that in accordance with the laboratory regulations, the ionization of plates infected with COVID-19 was only done once, at the beginning of the experiment, and only for 60 minutes.
Day 2. The photo below shows that the number of non-ionized cells still alive is significantly lower. This means that a large number of them have been killed by the coronavirus.
Day 3. The lesion of living cells on the non-ionized plate continues to decrease. New living cells continue to appear on the plate treated with the ions: there is a significant increase in living cells.
Day 4. In both photos, the number of living cells has significantly decreased. On the plate with infected cells that have not been treated with an ionizer the cells are almost completely affected by the virus. The number of living cells on the plate treated with ions is much higher. We assume that the fact that the number of living cells on this plate has decreased as well, is due to the fact that the plate has only been treated with the ions once, at the beginning, and only for 60 minutes.
The tests show that the infection of cells not treated with an ionizer occurs in geometric progression. After three days, more than 50% of the cells were infected with the virus. On the plates treated with the ionizer, only 8% of the cells are infected with the virus on the 4th day. This confirms that the effectiveness of our method of combatting SARS-CoV-2 is at least 92%.
We also conducted tests, in order to identify the effect of ions on healthy living cells. We treated the cells with the ionizer for 120 minutes, and tests show that their reproduction has accelerated compare to the ones which not been processed with ionization. This shows that our ionization method creates a favorable environment for cell proliferation. The cells have become more active. So, we have hence received confirmation that our method does not negatively affect the living and healthy cells.
The tests on Vero cells proved as well that the ionization treatment does not affect cell viability. The Vero cells were cultured with a nutrient medium comprising of Dulbecco’s medium, 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS), 10% streptomycin/penicillin, 10% L-glutamine and l-alanine and subsequently incubated at 5% CO2 and 37 °C. On the day of the experiments, cells were detached from the culture vessel using Trypsin/EDTA (10 min at 37 °C) and collected in 5 Petri dishes (60x15mm) by centrifugation (6 min/1000 rpm/25 °C) at a final density of 200.000 cells ml-1. Four Petri dishes been influenced by the ionization (the fifth Petri dish was used as control). All Petri dishes were then incubated at 37 °C with 5% CO2 and daily observations were performed with the help of a biological inverted compound microscope (SP-95-I) to evaluate the proliferation rate of the cells based on the proliferation rate of the untreated cells (control). Observations on the proliferation rate of cells exposed to the ionization were noted over three days.
The two staged ionization method to emit to air different ion compositions has been developed. The unique technology of creation of stable ionized substance in form of gel in porous structure allows to apply low power high voltage bipolar or single polar ionization to emit 30-40 thousand of ions per cubic centimeter on the distance of 0.5 meters.
The results of the tests carried out confirmed the deceleration in the spread of the viral infection, as well as a stimulation in the growth of healthy human cells. The tests with healthy epithelial L929 cell as well as tests on Vero cells showed no negative effect of the ionization.
The solution can be very useful to create a device to deal with multiple RNA viral infections, including COVID-19 as prevention of the viral infection or ionic therapy of it.
We would like to thank scientific researchers and engineers of ASBIS group. A special thank you must go out to our wives for their patience, critical assessment and valuable contribution.
Siarhei Kostevitch. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5367-440X
Alexander Kornev, PhD
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