Discovery leads to breakthrough nontoxic sanitizers and disinfectants against common and deadly germs

July 11, 2019

A powerful, safe new weapon in the fight against the flu virus, staph, MRSA, E. Coli and other deadly infections is on the horizon, thanks to new sanitizer and disinfectant formulas developed by Protein Express Laboratories, a Cincinnati-based bioscience company.

The organization announced that it has won patent approval and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration for a new class of sanitizers and disinfectants that kill germs – including some highly-resistant strains – using a combination of safe active ingredients not previously known to have such properties and not found in any product currently on the market.

With a high level of efficacy and very low toxicity, the potential uses for these unique formulas are nearly limitless, including private homes, hospitals and health facilities, schools and childcare centers, athletic locker rooms, and other high-traffic public and private buildings. 

The formulations, PEL-421 and PEL-422, were recently registered by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), a requirement for products to be sold as sanitizers and disinfectants in the United States. They use the primary active ingredient 1,2-hexanediol, which has been proven to have a very low toxicity profile. The company says PEL-421 and PEL-422 have been classified by the EPA as toxicity category IV, meaning they have the lowest toxicity levels designated by the EPA. At the same time, the mechanism by which the formulations exert their antimicrobial activity strongly suggests that they will not promote the growth of resistant organisms – a significant public health concern. These major milestones pave the way for the lab’s products to be commercialized and brought to market.

“1,2-hexanediol was not previously registered as a sanitizer or disinfectant, but our independent, EPA-mandated and reviewed testing demonstrated that, when combined with other ingredients in the proper formulations, it safely kills harmful bacteria,” said Dr. Joseph Thomas, principal of Protein Express Laboratories, in the statement. “PEL-421 and PEL-422 have been given the EPA’s lowest toxicity score, are not corrosive or reactive, and do not foster the growth of resistant organisms. We are extraordinarily enthusiastic about the impact these products will have on some of history’s most problematic bacterial and viral infections.”

Dr. Thomas, along with his partners, Dr. Michael Howell and Dr. Zsolt Hertelendy, discovered PEL-421 and PEL-422 somewhat accidentally. The formulations arose from their realization that cell lysis buffers – developed by Protein Express to extract proteins from cells – were effectively killing microorganisms in the process of cell lysis. They modified and tested the formulations to increase kill rates and then satisfied the EPA’s efficacy standards. The formulations consist of up to four reagents and are free of bleach, alcohol, peroxides, and other oxidants and corrosives.

Protein Express Laboratories’ sanitizer and disinfectant formulations are protected by a recently issued patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The company also has been advised recently that the European Patent Office will grant its application in the near future.