Researchers have developed an experimental chewing gum that can trap SARS-CoV-2 particles in saliva, that curbs the transmission of the virus.
Researchers at the School of Dental Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have been working on a special type of chewing gum that should minimize transmission and infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. According to a recent paper published in the Biomaterials Journal, the experimental gum has copies of the ACE2 protein found on cell surfaces, which the coronavirus uses to break into cells and infect them. In test tube experiments, researchers found that virus particles of the Delta or Omicron variants attached themselves to the ACE2 “receptors” in the chewing gum, causing the viral load in the saliva to go down to undetectable levels.
“Because nasal transmission is negligible when compared to oral transmission… chewing ACE2 gum and swallowing ACE2 protein should minimize infection, protect COVID-19 patients and prevent transmission,” research leader Dr. Henry Daniell said.
It is being called the “viral trap”. It contains ACE2 proteins carried with engineered lettuce cells, but a second type made with bean powder can seemingly trap influenza strains, coronaviruses that cause the common cold and other oral viruses.
Clinical trials are yet to be done. They are planned with COVID-19 patients scheduled to each chew four ACE2 gum tablets each day for four days.
Approximately a quarter of Americans chew gum at least 2-3 times a week, and others would shortly turn to gum as an alternative to pills or injections.