Start-up company licenses Auburn-developed, germ-killing technology

Published: January 23, 2020

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Building on a research career that started in the late 1970s and following on the heels of some 40 patents owned by Auburn University, S.D. Worley is credited with another development that may soon become a commercially available germ-killing technology with multiple applications. This is all thanks to a licensing agreement with a small New York-based firm, Halomine Inc.

Halomine has obtained a license to incorporate Worley’s technology into products of its own, which Halomine Chief Executive Officer Ted Eveleth hopes will be marketed in late this year.

Halomine formed in 2018 with the intent to commercialize an antimicrobial disinfecting spray technology developed at Cornell University. “We found the N-halamine technology, developed by Worley, to be superior to others and we want to incorporate it into our rechargeable, long-lasting antimicrobial product,” Eveleth said.

Halomine entered into the licensing agreement with Auburn in fall 2019 according to Brian Wright, director of commercialization at Auburn’s Office of Innovation Advancement and Commercialization. Halomine has the rights to incorporate Auburn’s technology into their HaloFilmTM products, which will be a rechargeable, long-lasting surface disinfecting spray that has potential in several market areas.

“We are exploring four major market areas,” Eveleth said. “We believe this product can have applications in food safety, healthcare, industrial settings and settings in the home.”

Worley’s contribution is based on N-halamines, compounds containing one or more nitrogen-chlorine covalent bonds. N-halamines provide antimicrobial effects by transferring their positively charged chlorine to appropriate receptors in microorganisms, leading to death of the microbes. In other words, they kill germs by exposing them to an anti-microbial agent.

“I first started my research in this area in 1978 after I came to Auburn,” said Worley, who retired in 2009 and is a professor emeritus in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Worley has applied the technology to water purification, surface disinfecting, gauze medical bandages, as well as purification and filtration. The technology is based on the development of polymers that contain chlorine, or alternatively bromine, as the disinfecting agent. Worley explains that while both chlorine and bromine are excellent germ-killing agents, their effectiveness does not last long in their basic state.

“By developing various polymers that contain these disinfecting agents, they are capable of holding the antimicrobial properties for a much longer time,” Worley said. “Moreover, they are easily recharged by exposing them to simple household bleach.”

Halomine says their HaloFilmTM can make any surface an antimicrobial surface. By incorporating Auburn’s N-halamine technology, they hope to bring to market a product that not only can effectively kill harmful surface pathogens, but that also lasts longer than presently available products. Once on the market, Eveleth says the product will initially be available through e-commerce channels.

Submitted by: Mitch Emmons