Scientists have developed a gum that could finally end the COVID pandemic

Can GUM finally stop the COVID pandemic and the flu? Scientists have developed a new candy that traps virus particles in saliva, easing symptoms and reducing the risk of transmission.

  • The gum contains a plant-grown protein that traps the Covid-19 virus in saliva, slowing its person-to-person and cell-to-cell transmission.
  • Gum Dr. Henry Daniell of the Penn School of Dental Medicine, with help from scientists at the Perelman School of Medicine
  • Researchers are preparing to begin the first human trial and hope the gum will serve as a cheap and easy-to-use option to fight Covid-19.

Scientists have developed a gum they say can trap COVID-19 in saliva, reduce symptoms and reduce the risk of transmission.

The gum contains a plant protein that traps the SARS-CoV-2 virus in saliva, which slows not only person-to-person but also cell-to-cell transmission in patients.

This protein is normally used by COVID to enter human infected cells. But by replicating it, scientists at the Penn School of Dental Medicine were able to inject the virus into the mouth of a person chewing gum.

The treatment was developed by a team led by Dr. Henry Daniell of the Penn School of Dental Medicine, with help from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine.

Researchers are preparing to begin the first clinical trial and hope the gum could serve as a cheap and easy-to-use option to fight Covid-19.

“We’re using masks and other physical barriers to reduce the chance of transmission,” Danielle Penn told Toy, “and this gum can be used as an additional tool in that fight.”

Before and after images showing microbubbles infected with SARS-CoV-2 in a patient. After treatment with ACE2 gum, the number of infections decreased dramatically

In the gum

“Viral trap” ACE2 proteins in gum (above) are transported inside engineered lettuce cells.

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 attached to ACE2 “receptors” in the gums, causing viral load to drop to undetectable levels, the researchers reported in Biomaterials.

“Viral trap” ACE2 proteins in gum are transported inside 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 strains of the flu, other flu-causing coronaviruses, and other oral viruses such as human papillomavirus and herpesvirus. on paper.

“SARS-CoV-2 multiplies in the salivary glands, and we know that when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or talks, some of the virus can be released and reach others,” said Daniell, “This allows the gum to neutralize the virus in saliva, giving us a simple way to reduce the source of disease transmission.” gives.’

Before the pandemic hit the world in 2020, Danielle was researching the ACE2 protein as part of a treatment for hypertension.

ACE2 had previously been shown to reduce viral loads in patients, and after hearing about dental school developing a gum with the protein to fight plaque, Danielle began to wonder if the same director could be used to fight Covid-19.

“Henry contacted me and asked if we had samples to test his approach, what samples would be appropriate to test, and if we could test the levels of SARS-CoV-2 in saliva samples ourselves,” said Ronald Kollman, a virologist at Penn Medicine who participated in the project. led to cross-school collaboration on research.”

Gum Dr.  Henry Daniell (above) of the Penry School of Dental Medicine, with help from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine

Gum Dr. Henry Daniell (above) of the Penry School of Dental Medicine, with help from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine and the Penn School of Veterinary Medicine

Diagram showing how ACE2 gum interacts with and inhibits transmission of Covid-19 viruses

Diagram showing how ACE2 gum interacts with and inhibits transmission of Covid-19 viruses

Researchers are now looking to begin clinical trials in hopes of bringing the gum to market as another tool in the preventive arsenal against Covid.

In the trial, COVID-19 patients chewed four ACE2 gum tablets a day for four days.

According to Kollman, if scaled up, the gum could be an affordable solution to prevent Covid and could be used against other viruses, including the flu.

“Henry’s approach to making proteins from plants and using them orally is, hopefully, cheap, scalable; “It’s really smart,” he said.

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