Coronavirus has proven itself to be a smart beast. It fells humans before they come to know about the enemy. But now, a team of scientists has discovered a way to cheat and kill the novel coronavirus inside a human body. They have found a new technology that distracts and neutralises SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
The details of the research have been published in the Nano Letters, a journal dedicated to publications from the field of nano-science and nano-technology.
The discovery was made in a laboratory setting, where researchers used decoy polymers to see if these harmless artificial particles lure novel coronavirus into a trap or not. They found it to be effective.
This is a decoy technique as it works by creating microscopic bio-friendly polymers, which are coated with cells from living lung tissue or the immune system.
So, from the outside, these nano-particles or polymers look like living cells, getting the novel coronavirus believe that these are genuine human lung cells. Coronaviruses invade these cells for procreation but get trapped.
What actually happens during a normal infection is that virus enters a human cell and multiplies in numbers exponentially. The new virus particles then eat the cell from within and exit to similarly attack a larger number of cells.
Here, the decoy polymers are not living cells. When the coronavirus invades them, the pathogen does not find anything living to feed on and multiply its numbers. It breaks down and dies.
Mimicking lung cell membranes make polymers great decoys as SARS-CoV-2 have been found to be excessively attracted to lung cells. Coronavirus uses a special protein found in the membranes of lung cells to attach itself to it and colonise the host.
Coating the polymer in lung cells did the trick for the scientists. These polymers act as nano-sponges to mop up coronaviruses. The researchers believe that the immune system of the body will flush out the debris of coronaviruses and polymers in natural process.
The scientists hope this technology can be useful in other viral outbreaks such as Ebola as well. However, as said above, the success was achieved in a lab setting. In the next step, the scientists will carry out trials on animals and then on humans.
There is another advantage of this decoy technology as Covid-19 therapy. The nano-sponges were found effective in reducing inflammation, which has been a major cause of death among severe and critical cases of Covid-19.