Columbia University

Technology Ventures

A natural antimicrobial and preservative agent to prevent microorganism growth

Technology #cu14277

Antimicrobial agents and preservatives are used to safeguard against the spread of potentially dangerous microorganisms in a wide variety of products including cosmetics and personal care, and as an antifungal agent in both food and beverages. They are also used in hospitals as a disinfectant to prevent the spread of infection. However, some agents contain chemicals that can be harmful to humans and can invalidate their use in any of the above applications. This technology uses a combination of natural organic molecules and oils to act as an antimicrobial and preservative agent. The composition of this agent does not contain any hazardous chemicals and therefore may be used without the risk of any of the adverse side effects introduced by the chemicals used in other disinfectants and preservatives. The chemical composition of this technology is variable, and can be made to exclude harsh components such as benzyl alcohol for products that don’t need preservative properties. This technology has potential to act as a robust and all natural option for disinfection and preservative applications.

All natural antimicrobial and preservative composition acts as a disinfectant without the incorporation of hazardous chemicals

This technology uses a composition of organic molecules and oils, and has a broad range of composition for applications in different products. Importantly, the composition does not contain chemicals like tricoslan that can raise concerns about health issues or pose risk for developing cross-resistant strains of bacteria. In addition, this composition does not require the addition of benzyl alcohol, which is only necessary for some applications. This allows for a modular route towards preparing different antimicrobial preservative agents and disinfectants for a variety of products. Also, the absence of harmful chemicals allows for this technology to be implemented in veterinary settings, since animals may consume the compound during treatment.

Eight different compositions of this antimicrobial agent were tested for antimicrobial efficacy following the guidelines issued by the Cosmetics, Toiletries, and Fragrance Association, Inc. The efficacies of these agents were tested against two bacterial organisms, C. albicans and A. niger, which are present in humans and food respectively. All eight compositions of the antimicrobial agent saw significant reduction of the bacteria colony population.

Lead Inventor:

Shanta M. Modak, Ph.D.


  • Organic disinfectant for the skin (e.g. soap or lotion).
  • Organic disinfectant for hard surfaces (e.g. spray or wipes).
  • Antimicrobial applications in veterinary hospitals and clinics.
  • Organic food preservative and antimicrobial agent.
  • Organic beverage preservative and antimicrobial agent.


  • Free of chemicals with known adverse effects.
  • Modular formula allows for tuning of the technology for specific applications.
  • Allows for the incorporation or exclusion of benzyl alcohol without significant impact on the efficacy of its disinfecting or preservative properties.
  • Environmentally friendly organic components.

Patent information:

Patent No. (WO/2013/103556)

Tech Ventures Reference: IR CU14276, CU13167

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