Zylast Wins USAID's Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge


Zylast™ products have been selected as one of only three initial winners of the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge. The announcement introduces Zylast as a solution to help healthcare workers on the front lines provide better care and stop the spread of Ebola. 

The persistence of Zylast is critical in fighting the spread of Ebola. If a healthcare worker comes into contact with an infected person – even one who has not been diagnosed, Zylast provides defense against infection. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 10 percent of the casualties of the outbreak have been healthcare workers treating Ebola patients. Zylast also guards healthcare workers at the critical moments when they remove protective gear, which can be suffocatingly hot and close in West African climates. The riskiest time for healthcare workers is when the equipment comes off, as skin can come into contact with an infected surface.  Zylast kills any Ebola virus that comes into contact with Zylast-treated skin and will persist up to six hours after application. Alcohol sanitizers have no persistent effect – once they evaporate, skin can immediately become recontaminated, a serious danger in Ebola treatment.

More than 1,500 applications were received for the USAID Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge. The eight-step process was supervised by USAID, with contributions from scientists and experts from key organizations like the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and Department of Defense (DOD).

Zylast is a powerful hand sanitizing technology developed and provided by Innovative BioDefense (IBD), in partnership with Aquarius GEP; it not only kills on contact, but provides persistent protection for six hours, and protects the skin from drying and cracking. It is the only hand sanitizer that has been proven to reduce hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) over handwashing alone in a controlled, randomized clinical trial. When used in schools, Zylast prevented nearly 90 percent of contagious illness and reduced absenteeism by 39 percent. A major issue in the outbreak is the lack of clean, running water and hand hygiene to prevent transmission. 

"We are grateful for this recognition of the life-saving value of our products," says Dr Colette Cozean, CEO of IBD. "Together with our partners at Aquarius GEP, we have a special dedication to the health and welfare of Africa and Africans, and our most important goal is to end this epidemic and to spread health for the suffering people of West Africa."

Zylast kills at least 99.99 percent of 25 different, FDA-specified germs, and is more than 100 times more effective than common alcohol sanitizers, and does not irritate skin – irritated or dried skin is more susceptible to infection. Zylast has been proven to kill Norovirus, HIV, Poliovirus, all Influenzae including H1N1, Herpes Simplex, Rhinovirus, Rotavirus, and many others.

Amanda Billings, MPH, director of infection prevention at Physicians for Healthy Hospitals, states, "Our hospital has been using Zylast for four months. As an infection preventionist I am always looking for the newest technology that will provide our patients with a safer hospital stay. Zylast's ability to kill viruses and persistent antimicrobial properties are key factors to achieving reduced hospital-acquired infections. The non-irritating property of Zylast is also a positive with the staff and encourages increased hand hygiene compliance."

Following laboratory testing, USAID may authorize a pilot clinical study at several beta sites in high-risk areas of West Africa. This would confirm the ability of Zylast in conjunction with other protective equipment to reduce Ebola infection.

Fast-growing orders surpassing many tens of millions of dollars have already been received by Innovative BioDefense  for disaster relief from international crisis relief organizations such as UNICEF, and from the DOD. Zylast can be used throughout West Africa to prevent the spread of the Ebola epidemic by April 2015.

"Zylast has the potential to contain the spread of Ebola," according to Beth McNicol, PhD, an expert in emerging infectious diseases. "It is highly effective on contact against bacteria and enveloped viruses, and it also offers persistent protection for six hours. Zylast provides protection directly on the skin and could significantly impact the fight against Ebola."

The current Ebola outbreak began in December of 2013, and has spread through the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. More than 18,000 cases have been reported, though the CDC and World Health Organization suggest that the true number could be several times higher. The disease has proven fatal in more than 70 percent of cases. The Fighting Ebola Grand Challenge offers the opportunity to impact the spread of the disease with practical and innovative technologies.

Source: Innovative BioDefense Inc. (IBD)

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