A new project to research the anti-viral properties of seaweed will be undertaken by researchers at the University of Liverpool.
The research team has been awarded a £350,000 grant from Innovate UK to carry out the research in collaboration with Byotrol plc, exploring the potential uses of anti-viral seaweed compounds in disinfection products such as hand gels and household cleaners.
AIM-listed hygiene group Byotrol has been investigating sustainably sourced anti-virals for some time, and has found certain forms of seaweed to have particularly good potential.
Exploring seaweed for disinfection
Viruses can be very difficult to eradicate due to the fact that they are easily spread and immune to antibiotics. They are even more expensive to treat and there are currently a limited number of anti-viral solutions to kill viruses.
There have been rapid advances in medical and cleaning technologies in recent years, however, despite these viruses such as norovirus, influenza and coronavirus continue to pose a major threat to human health and cost the UK billions each year.
The University of Liverpool’s Molecular Virology Research Group will use their expertise to characterise the anti-viral component of the seaweed, evaluate the efficacy of a much broader range of seaweed species, and determine its anti-viral mode of action.
Professor James Stewart, who is leading the project at the University of Liverpool, said: “The current COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to develop new anti-viral countermeasures, especially ones that are environmentally sustainable. We are excited to be working with Byotrol on the development of these compounds.”
Dr Trevor Francis, Chief Technology Officer of Byotrol plc, said: “We are delighted that Innovate UK is supporting our research into the anti-viral properties of seaweeds and we are very pleased to be working on this project with Professor James Stewart’s excellent team at the University of Liverpool. It is a very exciting area of development for Byotrol.”