Emerging Startup

Disinfecting Pathogens on Surfaces and in Air

Micrograph of E. coli, courtesy of the NIH.

An emerging startup intends to commercialize nano-size water particles that inactivate microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. (Micrograph of E. coli courtesy of the NIH.)

Pathogens found in the air and on surfaces present a massive global health challenge, threating human health and food security. The lab of Philip Demokritou at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health has developed Engineered Water Nanostructures (EWNS), nano-size water particles that inactivate microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. EWNS can deliver nature-inspired, GRAS antimicrobials, with only pico- to nano-gram amounts of active ingredients (e.g. ROS, citric acid) required for decontamination. Using an aerosol delivery approach, EWNS are applied as a dry deposition.

A startup emerging from the lab, called Kathara, aims to commercialize EWNS as a greener, efficient method for inactivating microorganisms on surfaces and in the air. The platform technology could be impactful in a number of applications, including food supply, enhancing food safety while minimizing waste, hand hygiene, helping to limit the spread of infectious diseases, and health care settings, eliminating pathogens on surfaces and in the air.