A team of scientists from the University of Pennsylvania has developed chewing gum to neutralize the coronavirus in saliva, according to the BBC. It is in saliva that viral particles actively multiply. Therefore, scientists expect that chewing gum will neutralize them at the first stage of ingestion.
According to the university, the idea of the development is to “trick” the covid by presenting the protein molecules as virus cells. In this way, the gum can block the virus, preventing it from multiplying.
The coronavirus attaches to the ACE2 receptor protein, which is present on the surface of certain types of cells. ACE2 is also found in plant cells. Gum contains this protein in high concentrations.
At the moment, the researchers have conducted tests in the laboratory, where the development has shown good results. According to scientists, even 5 milligrams of protein in gum was enough to reduce the penetration of the virus into cells. 50 mg reduces its activity by 95%. During the experiments, an artificial analogue of SARS-CoV-2 was used, which is much simpler in composition than the present one.
No human trials have yet been reported. Therefore, it is not yet clear whether the temperature of the mouth and the bacteria living there will affect the effectiveness of the gum.
The developers suggest using chewing gum not for prevention, but in order to reduce the risk of transmission of infection between infected patients – for example, in hospitals.