Covid-19 gum: An experimental gum could reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This, according to a recent study published in the journal Molecular Therapy.

Index hide

Covid-19 gum: Evidence shows that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 have high levels of virus in saliva

Lately there have been thousands of headlines calling the findings “new hope” in our fight against COVID-19. But how excited should we be? And could this gum work against Omicron, the new variant of concern?

Evidence shows that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 have high levels of the virus in their saliva. So the US researchers wanted to investigate whether a specially designed gum could reduce the amount of virus in the mouth and therefore potentially reduce its spread.

Chewing gum to promote oral health is not a new idea. Studies have shown that gum containing certain substances such as calcium and bicarbonate can improve oral health. Reducing the incidence of dental ailments and reducing the amount of harmful bacteria.

But specifically targeting a virus in this way is a novel approach.

Researchers mixed these samples with a powdered form of chewing gum.

To test the effectiveness of chewing gum, the researchers took saliva samples from COVID-19 patients. And they mixed these samples with a powdered form of chewing gum. They found that the treated saliva had significantly reduced the number of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles. Compared to those treated with a placebo (the same gum but without the ACE2 protein).

Read:  Your child will love this Harry Potter Hagrid Hut!
The researchers also showed that the chewing gum prevented a pseudotyped virus (a harmless virus with the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein on its surface). It will infect cells in the laboratory. As little as 5 mg of chewing gum was associated with significantly reduced viral entry into cells. While 50 mg of chewing gum reduced viral entry by 95%.

This suggests that ACE2 gum severely hampers the ability of the spike protein SARS-CoV-2 to infect cells.

Reasons for caution

Although these results look promising, there are a number of reasons why we cannot see this gum as a pandemic game changer just yet. First, this is early-stage research, which means that the experiments were carried out in a laboratory under controlled conditions rather than with real people.

The conditions in a laboratory experiment will be different than the conditions in a person’s mouth. While the researchers used a chewing simulator machine to demonstrate that chewing motion does not affect the integrity of the ACE2 protein in chewing gum. There are other questions for which we do not yet have answers.

Second, although chewing gum significantly reduced the infection of a virus that carried the SARS-CoV-2 peak. The researchers did not use the full SARS-CoV-2 virus in their experiments. While the method they used, virus pseudotyping, is a tried and true scientific method to assess virus entry into cells, it would be interesting to see how chewing gum affects the entire SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Covid-19 gum Would chewing gum be effective in Omicron?

As for whether chewing gum would be effective in different variants of COVID, such as Omicron, the principles of virology give us reason to be optimistic. Regardless of the variant and its mutations, SARS-CoV-2 enters human cells by adhering to ACE2 proteins. Which is key to the functioning of the gum. That said, this is another question that we won’t know the answer to for sure until the product is tested in real-world tests.

Lastly, it is important to understand what this gum is designed for. The researchers note that its primary use is likely to be to reduce the viral spread from people with COVID-19 to others, particularly in clinical settings. It is not clear how well it would work as a prophylactic to prevent uninfected people from contracting the virus, particularly when SARS-CoV-2 can be transmitted through multiple routes, including the eyes, nose and mouth.

Regardless, this chewing gum could have interesting prospects in a clinical setting, for example reducing the spread in dental surgeries or COVID hospital wards.

When used in combination with current methods such as mask use, ventilation, and vaccination, it could be another weapon in our arsenal to prevent the spread of COVID-19. But more research is needed before we can expect to chew it.

Related Notes:

Mexico updates surveillance protocols to search for Omicron variant cases

What we know about the new variant that has set off the alarms

The NU variant could very soon be classified as “concern”