An Ohio State University researcher and her team have created the first medical glove that can block radiation while meeting federal guidelines and not triggering allergic reactions.
The Radiation Attenuation (RA) medical glove developed by Katrina Cornish, an Ohio Research Scholar and holder of the Endowed Chair in Bio-based Emergent Materials at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES), and her team uses rubber from guayule, a shrub native to the southwestern US and northern Mexico. Unlike the RA gloves currently available on the market, the innovative glove utilises guayule natural rubber, which does not cause allergic reactions, according to extensive testing by Cornish and her team.
The glove was developed in partnership with EnergyEne, a Wooster-based startup led by Cornish.
Medical professionals typically prefer gloves made from natural rubber because they are stronger, provide better protection against pathogens, and cause less hand fatigue. RA gloves are required for medical professionals performing procedures such as X-rays or radiation treatment of a tumour.
Cornish said the only other RA medical glove that protects against both radiation and bloodborne pathogens is produced by a company in Italy. But that glove is made from Hevea rubber, which contains proteins that can cause allergic reactions.
Historically, natural rubber gloves have been problematic for people with latex allergies. A Type 4 latex allergy, the more common type, can cause a rash and skin cracking, while a Type 1 latex allergy can be life-threatening. Gloves made from synthetic rubber typically don’t cause allergic reactions, but are thicker, less stretchy, and do not offer as much protection against diseases, Cornish said.
Besides not causing allergic reactions, the advantages of guayule rubber are that it’s soft, stretchy, and strong.
Using the rubber from guayule, Cornish and her team were able to produce a glove thick enough to block radiation and strong enough to block pathogens, yet thin enough to be flexible and stretchy, making it easy for professionals to work with precision while wearing them.
Cornish will be pursuing Food and Drug Administration approval of the glove, then a licensing agreement to commercialize it. It likely will be on the market within two years, she said.
Along with making medical gloves, Cornish and her research team are creating other rubber products from guayule, including condoms and weather balloons. They also are working on products that can be made from the rubber in a specific kind of dandelion, a cousin of the common garden dandelion.