Developed by researchers at the Penn School of Dental Medicine, the gum works by reducing transmission through sneezing, coughing, and speaking.
The gum is “saturated” with DNA from an angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), which binds directly to the virus and may block it from spreading.
The scientists hope they can “diminish” virus infection.
Lead researcher Henry Daniell explained that the gum provides an opportunity to “cut down on a source of disease transmission.” How? The idea is that the gum is directed to the salivary glands, where SARS-CoV-2 replicates. It involves loading the saliva with proteins before a binding process takes place.
The work involved teaming up with virologist Ronald Collman, who has collected blood, nasal swabs, and saliva from COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic for scientific research.
Collman described the vegan chewing gum as “really clever.” And, hopes it can be scalable as the process is inexpensive too.
Currently, the team is trying to secure permission for the gum to be used in a clinical trial to test if it is safe to use on people infected with COVID-19.
Penn School of Dental Medicine began looking into COVID-19 because transmission remains a key problem in the pandemic. This is despite the roll-out of vaccines, as those who are vaccinated can still carry the virus.