Companies develop COVID-19 detecting face mask
June 17, 2020
VANCOUVER – Sixth Wave Innovations Inc. is pleased to announce it has entered into non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Neocon International Inc. of Halifax, NS to design and produce a face mask that incorporates the Company’s patent-pending virus detection technology (SmartMask) – currently under development.
The Company is not making any express or implied claims that its product has the ability to eliminate, cure or contain the COVID-19 (or SARS-2 Coronavirus) at this time.
On April 3, 2020, Sixth Wave announced the filing of Patent Application Number 63000977 – The Use of Molecularly Imprinted Polymers for the Rapid Detection of Emerging Viral Outbreaks, such as SARS-CoV-2 virus responsible for COVID-19, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (the Accelerated Detection Molecularly Imprinted Polymers Patent or AMIPs Patent). Sixth Wave filed a second application on April 17, 2020, covering a variety of practical devices designed to collect, among others, air, water and surface samples in various environments and deliver a rapid indication of the detected virus (the AMIPs Device Patent).
A potential application described in the AMIPs Device Patent is the incorporation of the AMIPs technology into an N95 Compliant, or other mask/respirator. The SmartMask could provide the standard protective capabilities of an N95 mask, with the capability to alert the user that a target virus has been detected in the exhaled breath of the user.
The proposed method of alerting the user is a color change in the embedded AMIPs media, to be included in the face mask design. Based on prior experience with colorimetric media, Sixth Wave believes that AMIPs media can be designed to deliver a positive test result using variable color codes, including optional fluorescence, within minutes of exposure to the virus exhaled in the breath.
A SmartMask prototype, including the AMIPs technology, has yet to be completed. Independent third party laboratories will be engaged for advanced testing at the appropriate time.
Neocon has already produced several versions of an N95 mask which will serve as the foundation product for development of the SmartMask prototype under the proposed arrangement with Sixth Wave.
The existing Neocon N95 mask uses machined match-mold aluminum production molds with advanced thermoforming techniques as well as all-in-one assembly fixtures to produce a cost effective, high quality 3-ply mask suitable for high volume production.
“We’re pleased to be working with Neocon,” said Dr. Jonathan Gluckman (pictured), CEO and president of Sixth Wave. “The combination of Sixth Wave’s experienced scientific team with the award-winning and globally recognized product innovation and manufacturing team at Neocon represents excellent synergy. Neocon has repeatedly been recognized with Nova Scotia’s Exporter of the Year Award, and complements our experience engaging with international markets. We look forward to working together to design and manufacture the SmartMask and potentially other AMIPs products aimed at meeting the broader needs for testing to ensure people’s safety and return to work, school, and social activities.”
“Neocon has committed engineering and manufacturing resources to fight the pandemic, and has been developing the complete engineering design for N95 certified and as required non-certified face masks,” said Pat Ryan, president of Neocon. “The opportunity to upgrade and transform that existing engineered product to “smart” status, with front-line remediation and response capabilities, is remarkable. I know the team at Sixth Wave shares our commitment to excellence, and we look forward to working together to respond to the challenges of ever-changing threat of novel viruses.”
The contemplated SmartMask prototype is intended to include a completely self-contained and non-invasive sampling device that can be used without training, electronics, or supplemental sampling equipment/reagents. SmartMask is envisioned as a practical device, compatible with extended daily use, with passive sampling capability and an easy-to-interpret results indicator such as color change.
The proposed SmartMask configuration under development would also offer a marked advantage over other types of Rapid Detection Test (RDT) technologies now in use for virus diagnostics. While conventional RDT’s are easy-to-use and provide rapid on-site diagnostics, they require invasive swab or blood sampling by skilled personnel. They are most commonly designed to detect antibodies produced in response to infection rather than the actual virus. These antibodies are a “lagging indicator” of the presence of the virus and can take days to weeks to develop in the human immune system. Moreover they have limited use during the early asymptomatic period during which the virus incubates and can be unknowingly spread to others which is a particularly vexing hallmark of COVID-19. SmartMask, however, proposes to detect the active virus itself, thereby allowing the prospects for detection days to weeks earlier than conventional immunoassay-based RDT’s.
About Neocon International
Neocon International is an award-winning manufacturer with over 25 years in the automotive industry, servicing all major auto companies and noted as an innovative Tier One design and manufacturing house taking projects from concept to prototype through to validation, verification, production system analysis and volume manufacturing. For more information, visit www.neoconinc.com.
About Sixth Wave
Sixth Wave is a development stage nanotechnology company with patented technologies that focus on extraction and detection of target substances at the molecular level using highly specialized molecularly imprinted polymers (MIPs). The company is focused on nanotechnology architectures that are highly relevant for detection and separation of viruses, biogenic amines and other pathogens, for which the Company has products at various stages of development.