Cape entrepreneurs launch new hand and air sanitiser – natural, safe and deadly to pathogens
Much has been made of alcohol-based hand sanitisers in the era of COVID-19 – but they come with serious skin and other risks. In fact, all authorities stress they should only be applied in the absence of soap and water. Now, a very clever team of South Africans have come up with a new solution….
You have to love the acumen and flair of many South Africans – to wit, the savvy brains behind Paarl-based Plant Inc who have created and launched Dermural Sanitiser Original, a plant-based sanitiser that, 100% safe and effective, is now being utilised in public spaces with SA government approval.
Demural combines flavonoid compounds found in citrus, spice and botanical extracts that have proven antimicrobial activity against an array of harmful pathogens.
It is, assert its creators – one of whom is Grant Momplé (right), a well-known and respected foodbev technologist, NPD specialist and qualified microbiologist – a much better and completely safe option to the plethora of alcohol-based sanitisers that have flooded our mindset, shelves and hands during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s our interview with Grant…
Q: Who and what is Plant Inc?
A: Plant Inc is a small group of like-minded people with a drive to infuse modern living with functional botanicals for better wellness and health management. Plant Inc was founded in latter 2018 by myself and Robin Grobler (left), a business entrepreneur.
We are also the official local agent for KannaSwiss, a Swiss cannabis startup. We are doing extensive work with cannabis in various formats including oil and water soluble, a range of terpenes as well as cultivar-specific cannabis flavour systems.
How have you come to discover and create this compound?
Our natural sanitiser is a compound of various citrus, botanical and spice extracts. All of its functional components are widely researched and peer reviewed. (See more in Science section below)
We have been working on the citrus bioflavonoids for over 10 years, both in terms of health functionality as well as natural microbial growth inhibitors in various applications.
The advent of COVID-19 certainly fast-tracked a project that was nearing completion. The involvement and review of research scientists from the Stellenbosch University has enhanced our confidence in our product.
So what has been your approach in these trying times – what is the wonder of Dermural?
The age-old mindset of “skop, skiet and donder” has once again become the primary approach to addressing this new virus crisis – causing serious secondary health complications. Citrus, botanical and spice extracts offer an effective, safer option.
With the onset of the pandemic, we’ve all been encouraged to isolate, social distance and wash hands regularly. As it’s not always possible to have water available, sanitisers came to the forefront. In a short time, however, it has become common knowledge that they may, in themselves, also pose a threat.
Why? Well. Simply because the vast majority are alcohol based and any Google search will show you that such preparations contain many hidden and serious dangers.
In fact, at a recent webinar, Dr Lucia Anelich, one of SA’s foremost microbiologists, argued that regular use of sanitisers containing high levels of alcohol is less than desirable. Her expert advice is that no more than two minutes should pass before rinsing and applying a hand cream – simply not possible or difficult to achieve for the multitude of people who need to sanitise their hands regularly! And this will only increase as more people get back to the workplace.
Our initial focus is on providing a suitable, effective and safe alternative sanitiser to the wide range of alcohol-based products that have hit the market – creating several additional health problems, from negatively effecting skin microflora to poisoning children who have consumed them by accident.
All the ingredients in Dermural are GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) – safe for you, me, children, the elderly and pets.
We have chosen to look to nature for safe and beneficial alternatives. Plant-based hand sanitisers can be as effective and have added benefits when it comes to the immune system, which as we all know by now, is at the centre of the battle for survival against COVID-19.
Expand on its application now, making TV news headlines, as an atomizer, a decontaminent for those travelling on Gautrain now?
The fact that most COVID-19 infections are caused by breathing in the virus in aerosol phase implies that alcohol-sanitised hands will still not prevent the majority of transmissions.
Our sanitiser – with a very pleasant citrus aroma – can be used as an aerosol or atomiser as well, both destroying pathogens in the environment, on clothing and bodies, while breathing in the spray will only enhance the body’s ability to fight the virus – something you cannot say about alcohol-based products.
And there’s no need to later clean surfaces say, in the likes of a food-business, where sanitisers are at risk of finding their way into the food.
See below this ENCA News snippet on the re-opening of Gautrain using Dermural in walk-through sanitising booths.
So, it seems then there must be multiple application possibilities in offices, workshops, factories, shops and malls etc? And looking at the science (below), is there potential as a COVID-19 treatment as well as preventative measure?
Absolutely! Furthermore, the active ingredients have also been incorporated into a range of additional lifestyle products including functional beverages, an oral sanitiser, nasal spray, eye serum and we’re currently looking at a topical skin application.
The international research currently being done on CBD (cannabidiol) and COVID-19 is also promising and product ranges will include products infused with KannaSwiss CBD.
As with most health issues, prevention is better than cure (ask Mr Gore at Discovery Health about this!). Dermural addresses both.
Why the name Dermural? And where is it being produced?
Dermural is derived from a combo of “derma” and “natural”. The product is manufactured in Paarl at a modern, custom-built facility. At this stage, quality is monitored both internally and certain tests outsourced to independent labs.
How is it presented and sold? Is it immediately available to buy, and in what format? What price points – is it economical as well as effective?
It is not our intention to go directly into retail marketing, so we have been manufacturing in bulk – five-litre cans and 1 000-litre tote bins. Some customers use our brand name, others have established their own brands.
The product is sold in a ready-to-use strength as well as a concentrated version. The price range will vary between R21.00 and R135.00 per litre (RTU) depending on volumes and concentrations. So very effective all round.
How are you protecting your IP?
Plant Inc protects our intellectual property by using patented formulations and compounds which have been researched and tested by independent laboratories. Various components are manufactured under license using registered formulations.
T: 063 780 7176
Phenols and flavonoids in Dermural Sanitiser Original
The Dermural Sanitiser Original citrus extracts contain flavonoid compounds which have proven antimicrobial activity towards Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Escherichia coli, killing 99.9% of these pathogens at dilutions of 1% after one minute contact time when tested in accordance with Section 5.2 of SANS 1615-2011.
Polyphenols display broad antimicrobial activity towards bacteria, fungi and viruses. Antibacterial activity of citrus bioflavonoids has also been shown, with increased activity towards gram-negative bacteria.
Polyphenols also possess antiviral activity toward a range of viruses including RNA viruses (norovirus surrogates, rotavirus, enteroviruses, influenza A and B viruses, respiratory syncytial virus, human immunodeficiency virus-1, hepatitis C virus, Japanese encephalitis virus, dengue virus, West Nile virus, and Zika virus) and DNA viruses (hepatitis B virus, herpes simplex virus, and varicella-zoster virus).
In relation to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the hesperidin flavinoid found in citrus extracts has very recently, in pre-print computer-generated models, shown potential as an inhibitor to the development of the SARS-CoV-2 by binding to the viral receptors.
The 3CL protease, one of the key proteases in coronaviruses (CoV), which includes the SARS-CoV, is inhibited by a range of flavonoids. More specifically, the citrus flavonoids hesperetin, apigenin, luteolin and quercetin showed noteworthy antiviral activity through 3CL protease inhibition.
Citrus flavonoids show an immuno-regulatory role to regulate the immune response and the so-called cytokine storm associated with the overreaction of the body’s immune system which increases the severity as well as complications and high fatalities of COVID-19.
Essential oils and terpenoids in Dermural Sanitiser Original
The Dermural Sanitiser Original essential oils and their isolated constituents have shown noteworthy antibacterial activity toward a range of pathogens, particularly in vitro studies assessing the effects on caries-related streptococci (mainly Streptococcus mutans) and Staphylococcus aureus, together with testing done in clinical trials.
Selected terpenes have been shown to reduce viral infectivity by 100%. The mode of antiviral action of monoterpenes towards the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) entails their direct interaction with free virus particles, thereby inactivating viral infection of HSV-1 in a dose-dependent manner before the virus particles enter host cells.
Laurus nobilis oil, containing β-ocimene, 1,8-cineole, α-pinene, and β- pinene as the main constituents, shows activity against SARS-CoV. The addition of linalool to Syzygium aromaticum (clove) oil (main constituent Eugenol) in a synergistic manner enhances its antimicrobial efficacy against bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa and the fungus Aspergillus brasiliensis.
Studies on linalool-containing essential oils indicate that this compound possesses antimicrobic, antibacterial and antiviral effects, as well as anti-inflammatory, analgesic and local anaesthetic activities.
Eugenol is virucidal towards HSV-1, HSV-2 and inhibits replication. The latter’s virucidal activity was found to be higher than clinical control Acyclovir alone, and in combinations was found to synergistically inhibit herpes virus replication in vitro.