Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have been researching the potential for chewing gum infused with the ACE2 protein to reduce the transmission of COVID. As a result of their extensive studies, it has been found that this gum reduces the levels of viral RNA in the saliva of those exposed to COVID to nearly undetectable amounts.
The vastly accomplished UPenn professor, Henry Daniell, has spent much of his career researching the oral delivery of biopharmaceuticals to reduce the need for expensive injections. In collaboration with Penn’s School of Dental Medicine, the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Veterinary Medicine, along with The Wistar Institute and Fraunhofer USA, Daniell has led the research into new COVID-fighting chewing gum.
“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,” explains Daniell. “This gum offers an opportunity to neutralize the virus in the saliva, giving us a simple way to possibly cut down on a source of disease transmission.”
Daniell had previously worked with the ACE2 protein when studying its ability to treat hypertension. When studying this protein in the context of COVID, Daniell discovered its receptor on human cells binds to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. This discovery was then paired with the technology of a gum which disrupts dental plaque.
Through the team’s research, it has been found that when saliva samples of people who have COVID are exposed to this ACE2-infused gum, the levels of viral RNA fell to nearly undetectable levels. This suggests that the gum could be incredibly effective in neutralizing the virus and ultimately reducing the transmission of COVID.
The research is still in its very early stages and is pending permission to conduct a clinical trial. If proven safe and effective, this could be a revolutionary way to reduce the spread of COVID.
You can find more extensive details in the Molecular Therapy journal which published their research in early November.