Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a chewing gum that can bind to SARS-CoV-2 in saliva and may help reduce virus transmission. The chewing gum contains the protein ACE2, which can attach to the viral spike protein of SARS-CoV-2. Due to the direct binding to the virus particles, transmission by coughing or sneezing can be prevented. The chewing gum could be another weapon in our arsenal against the transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
The COVID-19 pandemic is in its second act, many people in developed countries have received a vaccine, but the emergence of new strains and the lack of vaccination protection in many parts of the world mean the war on the virus is far from over is over. This struggle will continue for the foreseeable future, but innovations provide us with new tools to fight this formidable enemy.
Treating a patient with COVID-19 is much more difficult than simply preventing an infection. While vaccines can prevent serious illness, they don’t completely prevent infection and transmission. Simple measures, such as face masks, can play an important role in reducing transmission between large populations. This latest technology falls into this category, but uses a little more sophistication than a face mask.
“SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, and we know that when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs or speaks, some of that virus can be expelled and reach others,” said Henry Daniell, an at the Study of participating researchers. via a press release. “This chewing gum provides the ability to neutralize the virus in saliva, which gives us an easy way to contain a possible source of disease transmission.”
The mechanism of action of the gums is based on the binding activity of the viral spike protein, which binds to ACE2 receptors on human cells. However, it is possible to use ACE2 as a bait for virus particles. The researchers took advantage of this phenomenon by incorporating ACE2 into a piece of chewing gum, creating a cinnamon-flavored viral bait.
So far, the UPenn team tested the gums in the laboratory with COVID-19 nasopharynx swab samples from real patients and showed that the formulation significantly neutralized the virus particles.
“We already use masks and other physical barriers to reduce the risk of transmission,” said Daniell. “That gum could be used as an extra tool in this fight.”
Above: University of Pennsylvania