Scientists are developing a chewing gum laced with a plant-grown protein that serves as a “trap” for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, reducing viral load in saliva and potentially lowering transmission.
The researchers noted that people who are fully vaccinated can still become infected with Coronavirus and can carry a viral load similar to those who are unvaccinated.
“SARS-CoV-2 replicates in the salivary glands, and we know that when someone who is infected sneezes, coughs, or speaks some of that virus can be expelled and reach others,” said Henry Daniell at the University of Pennsylvania in the US.
“This chewing gum offers an opportunity to neutralise the virus in the saliva, giving us a simple way to possibly cut down on a source of disease transmission,” said Daniell, who led the study published in the journal Molecular Therapy.
This system has the potential to avoid the usual obstacles to protein drug synthesis: an expensive production and purification process, the researchers said.
The receptor for ACE2 on human cells also happens to bind the Coronavirus spike protein, which the virus uses to infect the cells, they said. Previous research has shown that injections of ACE2 can reduce viral load in people with severe infections.
The scientists observed that the Chewing gum largely prevented the viruses or viral particles from entering cells, either by blocking the ACE2 receptor on the cells or by binding directly to the spike protein.