Fight the COVID-19 virus with newly developed chewing gum
In the clinical trial, each COVID-19 patient would chew four ACE2 gummies daily for four days. The ACE2 proteins that “trap the virus” in the gum are transported in the engineered lettuce cells.
A second experimental gum made with pea flour instead of lettuce cells not only traps SARS-CoV-2 particles in lab experiments, but also other strains of influenza, coronaviruses that cause colds common and other oral viruses such as human papillomavirus and herpesvirus.
Lead researcher Dr Henry Daniell, Lead researcher, Dr Henry Daniell, College of Medicine, said: “Because nasal transmission is negligible. of Pennsylvania.
The angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein, found on the surface of many human cells, acts as a gateway for viruses to infect them. However, if delivered to the mouth by chewing gum, ACE2 could instead trap the virus by binding to the mutant protein it uses to infect cells.
Proteins in gum can also bind to receptors on cells, thereby blocking sites of infection. This combination can prevent the virus from infecting cells in the oral cavity.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, usually first infects human cells in the nose and throat. But the mouth is also a key reservoir for the virus in sick people.
New research suggests that inactivating the virus in the oral mucosa and saliva may also reduce infections in the adjacent nasopharyngeal region. If additional research shows these findings, chewing gum could combine with face masks and hand sanitizer in the anti-COVID arsenal.
How does chewing gum reduce the COVID-19 virus in saliva?
To study this strategy, a team led by pharmaceutical researcher Henry Daniell of the University of Pennsylvania genetically engineered lettuce to produce a soluble form of ACE2 (which has been shown to be safe at high doses). high in animals). The lettuce is then powdered and mixed with cinnamon-flavored gum.
The researchers tested the effectiveness of the protein in guinea pig cells modified to produce human ACE2 receptors. They found that a relatively small amount of the protein, coming from the gum, was associated with a 95% reduction in the number of cells invaded by an independent virus armed with the SARS-CoV spike proteins. -2.
The same amount of virus that survived inside the unmodified monkey cells was also reduced by 85% when exposed to the protein. Adding gum to saliva and nasopharyngeal swab samples of a small number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 was associated with a reduction of more than 95% in viral load.
The research team is awaiting approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to test the effectiveness of the gum in humans. The chewer test showed the protein to be released in 10 minutes and it was estimated that the protection would last for 4 hours. They are also testing a method of chewing gum against the flu.
Even if chewing gum does not completely protect against gum infection, it can reduce the spread by cutting down on the amount of virus in the mouth of an infected person and thus reducing the amount of virus. available for transmission.