Wednesday 8 November 2023
Chewing Away the Pandemic: The Breakthrough COVID-Neutralising Gum
As we continue to adapt to life with COVID-19, a new weapon in the fight against the pandemic is sticking its way to the forefront—literally. Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania have unveiled a chewing gum that can neutralize the COVID-19 virus in the saliva, potentially reducing the risk of transmission. This isn't just a fresh breath mint; it's a fresh perspective on pandemic control measures.
This novel idea comes from the laboratory of Henry Daniell at Penn’s School of Dental Medicine, who has been working on plant-based protein research long before the pandemic's onset. Their focus pivoted to our current global crisis, leading to a fascinating discovery: a gum that can tackle the virus where it's most prevalent—our mouths.
The science is impressive: angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) proteins, grown in plants and extracted in the lab, are used to create this groundbreaking gum. These proteins are the virus's preferred host receptors in the human body, making them the ideal candidate for a COVID-19 countermeasure. Daniell's previous research on a hypertension treatment inadvertently set the stage for this innovative approach to viral defense.
The potential applications are exciting and far-reaching. For instance, in dental care, where procedures necessitate the removal of masks, this gum could serve as an extra layer of protection for both patients and healthcare providers. The pre-appointment chew could become a new routine, offering peace of mind along with dental health.
The implications extend beyond professional settings, with possible benefits for daily interactions, especially in those critical moments where social distancing is not possible. Furthermore, the accessible nature of chewing gum as a delivery system could serve as an alternative or complement to vaccinations, particularly appealing to those hesitant about vaccines.
Daniell's team has published data showing a significant decrease in the amount of the virus after using the gum. With a compelling combination of convenience and science, this chewing gum could soon become a staple in our collective toolkit against COVID-19.
It's rare to find a pandemic response that can be packaged so neatly and enjoyably—perhaps in the future in the delightful form of Dubble Bubble. It's this kind of innovation that makes the future of public health not only look promising but also, potentially, a little sweeter. Keep your masks on, your hands clean, and maybe soon, your chewing gum armed against COVID-19.