Combating chemical and bio-terror is a complex issue. Terrorists can strike at any time and with anything. It might be smallpox or salmonella or it could be a chemical nerve agent like sarin. In order to successfully thwart an attack we need to be prepared for all of these at once. Scientists at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh have developed a material that could quickly and effectively combat all chemical and bio-terror agents without harming our bodies or the environment.

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Dr. Alan Russell, Ph.D was one of the senior investigators on the team that developed the fiber mesh that acts successfully as a decontaminate. It contains enzymes that can produce bromine or iodine to kill bacteria. It also creates compounds that detoxify chemical nerve agents. Since terrorists can use almost anything to attack, Dr. Russell stresses the broad spectrum of their detoxifying agent, saying “that uncertainty calls for a single broad-spectrum decontamination material that can rapidly neutralize both kinds of threats and is easily delivered or administered, and it must not damage the environment where it is applied.” Incredibly the fiber mesh and its enzymes leave the body in a perfectly healthy state without lingering poisons or toxins.

The mesh can be used to create liquid sprays, coatings, sponges or even wound dressings. In addition to fighting chemical and bio-terror they could reduce infection in internal wounds or invasive surgeries. In experiments with the new material it defended completely against Staph and E. Coli infections and within 24 hoursit restored 70% of acetylcholinesterase — a bodily enzyme that is attacked by nerve agents. Sounds like a success to us. Though our first hope is that we’ll never need this nifty decontaminate our second hope is that if we do it’s available far and wide!

+ University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Via Science Daily