Nova Scotia Journal

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Scientists are working on chewing gum that could help cut COVID-19 transmission

Scientists are working on chewing gum

Key Takeaways:

  • According to the researchers, the gum largely prevented viruses or viral particles from entering cells, unless by preventing the ACE2 receptor on the cells and by binding directly to the spike protein.
  • Previous studies have shown that ACE2 injections can reduce viral load in people with severe infections.

Scientists are working on a chewing gum that contains a plant-grown protein that acts as a “trap” for the SARS-CoV-2. Which causes COVID-19, decreasing viral load in saliva and potentially lowering transmission. However, the researchers noted that even people who have been fully vaccinated could become infected with SARS-CoV-2 and carry a viral load compared to those who have not been vaccinated.

“SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, also we know that when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks, people of that virus can be expelled and spread to others,” said Henry Daniell.

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“This gum allows an opportunity to neutralize the virus in the saliva, providing us with a simple way to reduce a source of disease transmission potentially,” said Daniell, who led the study. Which was released in the journal Molecular Therapy.

Daniell had been researching the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein in the context of hypertension treatment before the pandemic. His lab used a patented plant-based production system to grow this protein and many others with potential therapeutic applications.

chewing gum for COVID-19 transmission
chewing gum for COVID-19 transmission; Image from Tribune India

According to the researchers, this system can avoid the usual barriers to protein drug synthesis. Such as an expensive production and purification process. In addition, according to the researchers, the ACE2 receptor on human cells also binds the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which the virus uses to affect the cells.

Daniell and colleague Hyun Koo have also been developing a chewing gum infused with plant-grown proteins to disrupt dental plaque. When Daniell combined his knowledge of ACE2 with this technology. He wondered if a gum infused among plant-grown ACE2 proteins could neutralize SARS-CoV-2 in some oral cavity.

To put the chewing gum to the test, the researchers grew ACE2 in plants along with another compound that permits the protein to cross mucosal barriers and facilitate binding. The resulting plant material was incorporated into cinnamon-flavored gum tablets by the researchers.

The research member is now working to obtain permission to conduct a clinical trial to see if the approach is safe and effective when tested on SARS-CoV-2 infected people.

If the clinical trials show that the gum is safe also effective, it could be given to cases whose infection status is unknown to reduce the risk of the virus spreading to caregivers, according to the researchers.

Source: Indianexpress News

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