By Nancy Lapid
(Reuters) – Below is a summary of the latest research on COVID-19. They include studies that require further research to confirm their findings and have not yet been peer-reviewed.
Experimental chewing gum reduces Omicron particles in saliva
An experimental chewing gum that “captures” SARS-CoV-2 particles in saliva holds promise for curbing transmission of new variants of the virus, according to new data, as researchers prepare to begin first-in-human trials.
The gum contains copies of the ACE2 protein found on the surface of cells, which the coronavirus uses to enter and infect cells. In test-tube experiments using saliva from people infected with the Delta or Omicron variants, virus particles stuck to ACE2 “receptors” in the gums, causing viral load to drop to undetectable levels, the researchers reported in Biomaterials. In a clinical trial, COVID-19 patients chewed four ACE2 gum tablets each for four days. “Viral trap” ACE2 proteins in gum are transported in engineered lettuce cells. A second experimental gum, made from pea powder instead of lettuce cells, captured not only SARS-CoV-2 particles in laboratory experiments, but also flu strains, other flu-like coronaviruses, and other oral viruses such as human papillomavirus and herpesvirus. on paper.
“Because nasal transmission is so small compared to oral transmission… chewing ACE2 gum and swallowing ACE2 protein should minimize infection, protect COVID-19 patients, and prevent transmission,” said study leader Dr. Henry Daniell of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine.
Chronic COVID symptoms include sexual dysfunction, hair loss
Add hair loss and loss of libido to long-term COVID-related symptoms, UK researchers warn.
They compared nearly half a million people who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection without hospitalization through mid-April 2021 with nearly two million people matched for age, sex, and health. Overall, 62 persistent symptoms were significantly associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection after 12 weeks, the researchers reported Monday in the journal Nature Medicine. The most common include shortness of breath, smell disturbances, chest pain and fever, dysfunction, but the study also found memory problems, inability to follow familiar movements or commands, bowel incontinence, erectile dysfunction, hallucinations and limb swelling were more common in people. . with long covid. Compared to the uninfected group, men in the infected group were almost four times more likely to report hair loss and twice as likely to report difficulty ejaculating or decreased libido. The researchers found that younger people, women and racial minorities were more likely to develop prolonged COVID.
“This study confirms what patients told clinicians and policymakers during the pandemic, that long-lasting COVID symptoms are very broad and not fully accounted for by other factors, such as lifestyle risk factors or chronic health conditions,” said study leader Dr. This was reported by Shamil Harun, an employee of the University of Birmingham.
Faster PCR equipment is designed for local installations
The new gold standard test for SARS-CoV-2 weighs just 2 pounds (0.9 kg) and provides results in 23 minutes instead of the usual 24 hours, researchers say.
PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, testing is rarely performed in medical facilities such as doctors’ offices or pharmacies because traditional equipment is bulky and expensive and requires trained operators. PCR involves a thermal cycler, a process of heating and cooling that creates the conditions necessary to detect the genetic material of the virus in the sample. The new prototype uses smaller optical components and a new method of heating the sample: a so-called plasmonic thermocycler, which uses infrared radiation from metal nanoparticles to generate heat from inside the vial instead of using standard external heating methods. “The method can rapidly detect SARS-CoV-2 RNA from human saliva and nasal samples with 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity, as well as two different SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the researchers reported Monday in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Smaller, faster devices “are really going to move the needle for fast and accurate molecular clinical diagnostics in a truly decentralized setting,” said Mark Fasciano, co-author of the biotech startup Rover Diagnostics, which is developing the technology in collaboration with researchers at Columbia University. “Thermal cycling… can now be accelerated and clinicians and patients don’t have to wait long for results.”
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(Reporting by Nancy Lapid; Editing by Bill Burkrot)