Innovative Chewing Gum Neutralizes Virus in Saliva
Vaccines against COVID-19 have helped reduce severe cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. However, they have yet to fully eradicate high transmission rates because even those fully-vaccinated people have similar amounts of viral load as those unvaccinated individuals. That means they can still transmit the virus to other people and infect them.
According to Health Europa, study lead author Henry Daniell, from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, had been researching the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) protein even before the pandemic started in a bid to find a cure for hypertension. His work turned to be useful during the pandemic as ACE2 receptors on human cells are known to bind with SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.
Moreover, a different research project that develops a chewing gum laced with plant-grown proteins to disrupt dental plaque has led Daniell and his team to investigate whether plant-grown ACE2 proteins can also reduce the viral load in saliva.
Daniell said that the gum offers the chance to neutralize the viral load in the saliva, which is a simple way to cut down the source of transmission of the disease.
How Did the Make the New Chewing Gum?
The press release via Penn Today reported that researchers have been collecting blood, nasal swabs, saliva, and other specimens from COVID-19 patients during the early stages of the pandemic. They formed a cross-school collaboration to build their microbiome studies and to test the chewing gum.
They grew ACE2 proteins and another compound that will allow the protein to cross mucosal barriers and facilitate binding before they incorporated the flavor of cinnamon into the gum. Samples were then incubated with the gum and they noticed that the ACE2 present was able to neutralize the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Moreso, the levels of viral RNA fell so low that it was almost undetectable. The team is now working on obtaining permits to conduct a clinical trial to assess whether the chewing gum is indeed safe and effective when tested by COVID-19 patients.