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NanoRAD a new, long-lasting way to kill pathogens on cruise ships

IMAGES: ©KISMET TECHNOLOGIES CRUISE_Kismet_pilot_petri_dishes.jpg
In a 28-day pilot study at a pediatric dental facility where the test surface, behind a toilet, was not cleaned, no bacteria survived in the area treated by NanoRAD, as shown in the petri dish at right
Kismet Technologies is promoting NanoRAD, a new solution that kills a wide range of bacteria and viruses — including coronavirus, norovirus, monkeypox and more — on surfaces for three months with just one application.

In the early days of the pandemic lockdown, Dr. Christina Drake went to the grocery store for milk. As she reached for the dairy case, someone sprayed disinfectant on the handle then wiped it off, a useless act.

For Drake, who has asthma, the chemicals triggered a coughing fit, which she desperately tried to stifle behind her mask at a time when anyone coughing was a pariah.

What a waste of chemicals! she thought. Why do we have to put so many chemicals on surfaces to do such a poor job of disinfecting?

This incident triggered more than a cough.

It inspired Drake, a materials scientist, to get researching. She came up with an idea for tweaking nanoparticles of cerium oxide, an inert, commonly used mineral, to produce hydrogen peroxide in the presence of pathogens. Hydrogen peroxide is a highly effective and nontoxic disinfectant.

National Science Foundation funding

Drake's brainstorm led to a National Science Foundation grant for a study in conjunction with research partners the University of Central Florida College of Medicine and a later grant with NASA.

'The first batch of materials worked, and better than we had expected. Our virologist was extremely surprised,' Drake said.

Within 15 minutes, NanoRAD has been shown to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, including norovirus, coronavirus, rhinovirus, MRSA, S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, C.difficile and monkeypox, among other nasties.


'It was great kismet, born of the pandemic,' said Drake, who went on to form Kismet Technologies in Orlando.

The company is now touting its patent-pending NanoRAD to hospitals and cruise lines.

Unlike most disinfectants that only kill germs at the time of application, NanoRAD's claim is providing continuous protection as new bacteria and viruses are deposited on surfaces. In tests, this protective coating lasted for three months, eliminating the need to continually disinfect surfaces.

Caught Orlando Ashford's eye

At a time when cruise lines are getting bombarded with disinfectant solutions, Orlando Ashford, executive chairman of Azamara and former president, Holland America Line, has been pitched on scores of products. Many, he said, don't live up to their promise.


Orlando Ashford

Ashford's convinced NanoRAD is different — so much so that he's helping Kismet as a strategic advisor and hopes to get a pilot study on a cruise ship before year's end.

'I've been really impressed ... I believe it will benefit the industry and allow the world to open back up,' Ashford said.

How NanoRAD works

Here's how NanoRAD works: Nano (very small) particles of cerium oxide with a tiny amount of silver form a catalyst that converts the water that surrounds viruses and bacteria into hydrogen peroxide, killing these pathogens.

Cerium oxide, considered safe (inert) in the US and EU, is already broadly used in many products. 'We made a minor tweak in it — that's what's covered in our patent — that boosts hydrogen peroxide production,' Drake explained. Instead of just getting a trickle when the catalyst comes into contact with a virus or bacteria, it floods it.

'Since hydrogen peroxide is a very broad and highly efficacious disinfectant, we have really great efficacy against almost any virus we have tested: monkeypox, norovirus. rhinovirus ... even things like MRSA that's really nasty,' she said.

Self-cleaning surfaces for three months

Kismet puts the nanoparticles in a clear, epoxy-type coating to cover surfaces like handrails, elevator buttons, bathroom door handles and toilet seats. Tested using the US Environmental Protection Agency's Clorox and Fort Meade protocols — aggressive cleaning of the surface twice a day — the coating was effective for three months.

This makes surfaces self-cleaning, according to Shari Costantini, co-founder and president of Kismet, and a nurse with 30 years' experience including running her own healthcare staffing agency.

'If norovirus is present, it will be disinfected within 15 minutes at 99.9% and then, at the two-hour mark, at 99.999%,' Costantini said. 'From a cruise ship perspective, anywhere we use the expoxy coating there will be a significant savings in terms of labor, in terms of efficacy.'

Kismet also developed a shorter-lasting soluable film that can be used on deck chairs and soft surfaces like theater seats and curtains. It works for seven to 10 days.

The epoxy goes on with a sponge and is reapplied after three months. The soluable film can be manually sprayed on, wiped on or applied with an electrostatic sprayer.

Since the epoxy is clear and hard to detect, NanoRAD contains a flourescent molecule so the applier can check with a blacklight to ensure coverage.

Kismet said no medical training is required; application can be done by housekeeping staff. And no personal protective gear nor daily maintenance is needed. Drake said third-party testing showed the nanoparticles are as gentle as water on skin and eye cells.

Pilot study in a dental facility

In a 28-day pilot study at a pediatric dental facility where the test surface, behind a toilet, was not cleaned, no bacteria survived. (See top photo.)

Drake noted that, unlike other microbials which require a pristine surface, NanoRAD works even on dirty surfaces.

Cruise ship pilot study

'We've got some pilots in healthcare and would like to launch pilot studies with cruise lines to show the efficacy this year,' Costantini said. 'As soon as those results are in, we could roll into commercialization in the cruise industry.'

A cruise ship pilot ideally would last 12 to 14 weeks and involve 10 to 12 surfaces such as bathroom door handles, with Kismet staff taking weekly swabs.

Working on EPA approval

Meanwhile, Kismet has begun the EPA approval process and is working with the agency's anti-microbial and inert branches to determine the best registration path.

'We're helping the EPA think through the best route for us to get approval since the nanoparticles are just catalysts,' Costantini said. 'They're inert and just help with the hydrogen peroxide formation. It's so novel. It's never been done like this before.'

She added many of the required third-party tests have been completed, including the efficacy data via the University of Central Florida College of Medicine or NASA and the three-month protection claim under the EPA's Clorox protocol.

According to Costantini, cruise lines and other organizations use products that are not EPA-registered, however the EPA seal allows the product to make specific claims.

Based on Kismet's conversations with Ashford and other cruise executives, 'the concern is around product efficacy,' she said.


Different from catalytic solutions

Other long-lasting antimicrobial surface solutions use titanium dioxide, which requires light to generate hydrogen peroxide. Drake said this may seem similar to NanoRAD, but they work differently.

She explained titanium dioxide, also registered as inert with the EPA, needs ample light, which activates continous production of hydrogen peroxide. In contrast, cerium oxide doesn't require light and generates hydrogen peroxide only in the presence of pathogens.

'Even with a high dose of light, titanium dioxide produces about one ten-thousandth of the hydrogen peroxide that ours produces, regardless — in the dark, in the light,' Drake asserted.

Cost and sustainability

Kismet said its NanoRAD can can save labor, allow cruise lines' greater flexibility with their cleaning staff and reduce plastic waste and weight since ships don't have to carry large amounts of disinfectants. And there are no gray water issues.

Drake projects hospitals could offset their disinfectant use 50% with NanoRAD. She said this would reduce costs by 25% in terms of products, and cut overall waste output by 35% to 40%. NanoRAD's initial cost is higher than conventional products but she claimed it is more cost-effective over a year's use.

'The infection control has obvious value,' she said, adding that NanoRAD is also a greener solution since it puts fewer chemicals around people and into the environment and creates less plastic waste from disinfectant packaging.

'It's better infection control but also meeting sustainability goals. Adoption of our product would help meet goals on two fronts,' Drake said.

'With NanoRAD, we will be ready for the next pandemic, with fewer chemicals and less waste for the planet.'