The Sunday Telegraph reports that Kimberly-Clark has developed an anti-bacterial tissue that, the corporation claims, kills 99.9% of cold and flu viruses in minutes. The Kleenex Anti-Viral wipe, which goes on sale this autumn, is intended to prevent the spread of such viruses rather than relieve the painful symptoms.
This is how it works: the middle layer of the three-ply tissue is treated with chemical ingredients that are said to destroy almost all viruses within 15 minutes. The active ingredients are already found in many household products: they are citric acid, which flavours fizzy drinks, and sodium lauryl sulphate, a detergent in most shampoos and toothpastes. Together, however, they are a deadly anti-viral formula. Dr Winkler Weinberg, a spokesman for Kleenex and author of No Germs Allowed!, said:
"This is an incredible breakthrough. We're attacking the most common viruses known to man and the single biggest cause of employee absenteeism."Although anti-bacterial products are common, Kleenex claims that this is the first anti-viral product. However, some scientists have warned that such products could weaken people's immune systems and encourage the evolution of resistant germs. The company is confident that the anti-viral tissue will not cause new viruses to develop.
The product will go on sale in America in October, with a $30 milllion marketing drive. Kimberly-Clark will monitor its success before launching in Britain, probably next year. Peter Openshaw, a professor of virology at Imperial College London, said that he would not be persuaded to buy it.
"I accept that it kills 99.9% of viruses, but the makers have no evidence that it stops the spread of colds. How many people catch colds through dirty tissues? Perhaps if you blew your nose, kept the dirty tissue in your pocket and then wiped your child's face with it - but that seems a bit extreme. The tissue won't sterilise the air, or hands or faces. In one sneeze there can be 40,000 droplets and strings of mucus. If you held up a tissue you could deflect some of them back on to your face, I suppose, but not all."The market for tissues has grown by 35% since 1994 and is now worth £185 million a year. It is dominated by Kleenex, which holds a 50% market share.
The IPKat notes that the strength of the Kleenex brand is so strong that Kmberly-Clark doesn't need to sub-brand this product, simply tagging the purely descriptive phrase "Anti-Viral" behind the KLEENEX trade mark. He also reminds readers that in Europe there is no inventive step problem in patenting the use of a combination of known products (in this case citric acid and sodium lauryl sulphate) where the effect of the combination is not something that could be predicted.
The common cold here, here and here
The uncommon cold here and here