Antimicrobial Technologies - IDTechEx Discusses How They Work
BOSTON, April 8, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Antimicrobial technologies such as coatings and textiles containing silver and copper are helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that whatever they touch, whether that is a door handle or their own mask, is free from live SARS-CoV-2 particles. But how exactly do these antimicrobial technologies work? How can a silver, copper or even polymeric coating kill microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, or in the case of COVID-19, viruses? This article explores the mechanisms of action, or the interactions, through which antimicrobials work. IDTechEx have recently published a research report on the antimicrobial technology industry – "Antimicrobial Technology Market 2021– 2031". Please refer to www.IDTechEx.com/Antimicrobial for more information.
Damaging cell walls and membranes
Microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and mold are single cellular organisms surrounded by either a cell wall, cell membrane, or both. Disruption of this outside layer is a common way to kill microorganisms. Like all organisms, the insides of a microorganism are carefully regulated, and ideally, stays inside.
One way to destroy microorganisms is to disrupt the activity of the membrane. For example, silver-based technologies release silver ions that can bind to proteins within the membrane that regulate transport into and out of the cell. Similarly, high concentrations of zinc, itself essential to microorganisms for growth, can end up blocking ion channels that cross the membrane. When nutrients essential to the microorganism cannot enter, cell growth and reproduction is halted.
A more drastic method is to simply break the microorganism open. A wide range of antimicrobial technologies generate reactive oxygen species such as peroxides and singlet oxygen that attack and break down the cell membrane. Others, such as silane quaternary compounds, simply pierce or rupture the membrane through mechanical means.
Binding and inhibiting essential cellular processes
Antimicrobial technologies can also wreak havoc from inside the cell. Metal-based technologies, such as silver, copper, and zinc, release ions that bind to components of the cell's internal machinery, many of which are a part of pathways essential to the cell's survival. Metallic ions, being positively charged, also interact with negatively charged genetic material such as DNA and RNA. Access to DNA and RNA is critical – without it, new proteins cannot be created, and in the case of DNA, cell division is halted when DNA cannot be copied.