A new type of filament will help combat HIV transmission
Copper3D is a Chilean/US-based company that discovered a new mode of application for proprietary filament with copper nanoparticles. As products developed from such materials are very effective in terms of inactivating HIV, they can prove extremely useful in the construction of 3D-printed breastfeeding filters. Such applications cannot be considered new, since 3D printing is widely used for medicinal purposes.
Copper is known for its antibacterial properties and is currently being researched for its efficacy in terms of viral inactivation. For example, back in 2009, a group of British scientists from the University of Southampton found out that copper is quite effective against A/H1N1 — a flu virus also known as the “swine flu”. The Chilean scientists, in their turn, state that the properties of composite polymer filament with copper nanoparticles they developed are not only antibacterial, but also optimal for HIV inactivation.
Copper3D was founded by Daniel Martinez, Andres Acuña and Claudio Soto — a group of experts with a great deal of relevant background experience. Daniel is a physical therapist, Andres is an electronic engineer and Claudio is a rehabilitation expert. In order to test the filament capabilities, the team commissioned laboratory research. During the study, samples of the HIV-1 were placed into containers with a 40 cm² surface area made from PLACTIVE and then compared against the control group. The samples were kept inside the containers for different periods of time: 15 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 15 minutes respectively.
Daniel Martinez commented on the outcome: “The preliminary results showed a reduction of viral replication of up to 58.6% by simply exposition of the samples to the 3D printed boxes containing copper nanoparticles. Fifteen seconds of exposition were enough to achieve such a reduction. These data allow us to infer that by increasing the contact surface by a factor of 10X, we could obtain much higher inactivation rates, very close to 100% and according to our calculations, most probably in less than 5 seconds.”
Such a solution is expected to help HIV-positive mothers feed their babies without exposing them to the virus. It will certainly be of use in developing countries, where breastfeeding is the main way of HIV transmission. According to the WHO, mothers that don’t take any antiretroviral drugs as a part of their HIV treatment therapy have a 14-20% chance of infecting the baby when feeding. On the contrary, if a mother received enough treatment, the chances of transmission drop to 1-2% over the course of the first twelve months. In order to further diminish the breastfeeding HIV transmission rate, Copper3D is waiting for its patent application for the above-mentioned viral inactivation devices to be approved. The filters are expected to be fully functional and completed over the current year.
Currently, Copper3D offers several specialized consumables for FDM 3D-printers. The material lineup consists of PLACTIVE (polylactide), NanoClean (PETG) and MDflex (thermoplastic polyurethane). Since January 2019, the official designated distributor of products for the European market is 3DGBIRE, a UK-based company. Another recently appointed distributor is FormFutura, a Dutch-based company that began selling the filament via its official website a month ago.