A cutting-edge solution to prevent coronavirus infections has been discovered by researchers at North Carolina State University.
The team has developed an inhaled powder that creates a protective gel barrier in the airways, preventing the virus from causing an infection. The powder may prove to be an effective solution against new variants of the virus and provide interim protection while new vaccines are being developed.
The powder consists of polymer and gelatin microparticles that, when inhaled, enter the mucus lining of the nasal passages and lungs. The particles then expand and form a gel layer, acting as a barrier against viral penetration. The powder was tested on mice and monkeys, and it showed a blocking efficiency of up to 75% with no safety concerns.
The inhaled powder was tested on six African green monkeys and was found to significantly reduce the amount of virus in the body. The gel did not cause any side effects and did not affect breathing. The researchers are now seeking approval from the US Food and Drug Administration to test the powder on humans. If approved, it could be inhaled using an asthma inhaler and could provide an additional layer of protection for people entering crowded places.
The researchers also found that the gel was effective in preventing mice from becoming infected with flu and pneumonia-causing viruses, suggesting that it could protect against a range of respiratory viruses with pandemic potential. However, some experts have raised concerns that inhaling the powder could create thick mucus in the airways, triggering a lot of coughing. Instead, it might be better to administer the powder nasally.
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