Multiple applications for Pitt bioterror protection polymer

A new material crafted out of polymers developed by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh that can neutralize some effects of biological and chemical weapons has shown wide possibilities for its application against bioterror threats.

“This mesh could be developed into sponges, coatings or liquid sprays, and it could be used internally or as a wound dressing that is capable of killing bacteria, viruses and spores,” Richard Koepsel, a professor in the UPMC Department of Surgery and a co-author of the study on the polymer, said in a press release.

The thin, stretchy material, which is similar to a latex glove, may also be able to be used as a bandage. The material, which carries a high price tag, can be produced quickly.

“You would wrap yourself in it, use a little water and it would help [neutralize] what you’ve already come in contact with,” Koepsel said.

When placed in a hazmat suit or within air filters and masks, the polymer provides extra protection for first responders and soldiers.

The material, though, does not fight all biological and chemical weapon attacks.

“If the concentration is high enough, you can’t really do much,” Koepsel said.

The development of the polymer comes at an important time, Duquesne professor John Sawicki told

“Given the recent surge in pandemic threats and the international notice of highly destructive, contagious illnesses, a new, flexible chemical and biological [weapon] resistant material would be very useful,” Sawicki told