In a major breakthrough, an Indian startup, Thermaissance, has been able to successfully kill Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria with its innovative fabrics. Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacteria cause tuberculosis infections. A study conducted at Sasmira, an ISO 17025 certified NABL Lab in India, has shown that even after 14 days of incubation Thermaissance fabrics continued to show large zones of inhibition against TB, thereby indicating superior performance against TB bacteria.
Tuberculosis is a communicable disease and is a leading cause of death (ranking above HIV / AIDS). According to Global Tuberculosis Report 2021 by the World Health Organization (WHO), an estimated 9.9 Million people were diagnosed with TB in 2020 and about 1.5 Million people died. India has the highest TB burden with around 27% of Global TB patients. It is further estimated that about 40% of Indians have latent tuberculosis infection. While the WHO’s End TB Strategy aims to end the global TB epidemic by 2035, our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has set an ambitious target for complete TB elimination by 2025. Masks made of Thermaissance innovative fabrics can prove to an important infection prevention and control measure for TB.
TB is airborne disease and like Covid-19, it spreads from person to person when the infected person is coughing, sneezing, speaking, singing and even breathing. Coughing is the most important driving force for the transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis bacteria. It is estimated that each TB patient can transmit TB to about 15 to 40 people every year. Caregivers (families) of TB patients are at 60 times higher risk of developing the TB disease. Accordingly, face masks are recommended for use among TB patients and caregivers to reduce person-to-person transmission. However, the regular masks may not be as effective. Regular masks do not kill the existing bacteria and viruses; thus, the TB bacteria can remain active on such masks for longer periods. Additionally, patients with TB commonly have additional pathogenic bacteria in their sputum, and such bacteria can remain active on surgical masks, which may cause inadvertent risk of transmission of other pathogens on contact. It is for these reasons that the surgical masks are required to be disposed of in a sealed package after use by an infected patient. In the case of cloth masks, these are required to be sterilized before reuse. Further, it is recommended that face masks are replaced as soon as it becomes wet (moist) after coughing or sneezing since it can create a moist environment in which various bacteria and fungus are further allowed to grow and proliferate. However, these control measures and interventions are not possible in non-medical settings. Hence Thermaissance face masks can prove to be effective in reducing TB and other infections.
Thermaissance masks contain natural microbial agents that continuously destroy various bacteria and viruses as soon as it comes in contact with the masks. These masks are scientifically proven to inactivate 99.99% of coronavirus, gram-positive bacteria, gram-negative bacteria and highly resistant bacteria like MRSA, VRE, CRE and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. These masks are also anti-fungal and have shown to be effective against mucor species that commonly cause black fungus infections. When Tuberculosis bacteria comes in contact with the surface of the Thermaissance mask, Thermaissance’s proprietary technology penetrates the bacterial membrane, rupturing it, thereby hindering its ability to survive and eventually killing it. Self-sanitizing masks of Thermaissance are reusable for 150 gentle washes and do not require any special handling. These masks do not contain any harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and aniline.
“Face mask, as an infection control measure, can be effective only when the infected patients and their caregivers are wearing masks properly for longer hours. Thermaissance masks, unlike disposable and other cloth masks, not only provide adequate protection against TB but are also comfortable and skin-friendly. We are confident that our masks will prove to be an important intervention in TB prevention,” says Manish Raval, founder and chief executive officer, Thermaissance.
There is also research emerging around Covid-19 infection activating the latent TB in Covid-19 patients. There is also a report that latent TB can also be transmitted to others along with SARS-COV-2 viruses. Given this risk, the Indian government has recently revised its Covid-19 guidelines and asked people to test for tuberculosis if the coughing persists for over 2-3 weeks after Covid-19 infections.
“Thermaissance products are proven to inactivate Covid-19 viruses, as well as bacteria causing TB, Pneumonia among others. Our masks provide 360-degree respiratory protection at a fraction of the cost. These masks are reusable, and recyclable, making these a sustainable option to achieve public health goals,” says Hemali Sangani, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Thermaissance.
Thermaissance’s self-sanitizing and sustainable products were recently featured by International Finance Corporation (IFC), part of World Bank Group, in its report on Companies using Innovative Circularity Approaches in PPE Manufacturing. The report said that Thermaissance products contribute to circularity owing to their innovative self-sanitizing technology, recyclable materials, and unique product designs.