Sick Bubble

Who wants gum? It could be a Life Saver!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Dentists always warn us to stay away from candy! But Henry Daniell at U Penn has developed a chewing gum that disrupts plaque, the sticky stuff on teeth. Nice! But what else can gum do?

Daniell and team previously found that plant-grown proteins can absorb and deliver drugs when ingested. If plant material absorbs drugs, maybe it can TRAP other stuff too — like viruses! 

The team added the plant material to gum. Then, they took saliva samples from three COVID-19 patients. The patients chewed regular gum, then the plant-laced gum. Samples were taken after each one.

Results? Regular gum had no effect. But the plant gum REDUCED the viral load. Meaning, the amount of virus in the saliva samples became almost undetectable! 

Daniell thinks that sick patients who chew the plant gum could be less likely to spread viruses. 

We should all stay in personal bubbles when we’re sick. Now we know to BLOW bubbles too! Thanks to Dr. Bazooka Joe!

Reference: Henry Daniell, Smruti K. Nair, Nardana Esmaeili, Geetanjali Wakade, Naila Shahid, Prem Kumar Ganesan, Md Reyazul Islam, Ariel Shepley-McTaggart, Sheng Feng, Ebony N. Gary, Ali R. Ali, Manunya Nuth, Selene Nunez Cruz, Jevon Graham-Wooten, Stephen J. Streatfield, Ruben Montoya-Lopez, Paul Kaznica, Margaret Mawson, Brian J. Green, Robert Ricciardi, Michael Milone, Ronald N. Harty, Ping Wang, David B. Weiner, Kenneth B. Margulies, Ronald G. Collman. Debulking SARS-CoV-2 in saliva using angiotensin converting enzyme 2 in chewing gum to decrease oral virus transmission and infection. Molecular Therapy, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.ymthe.2021.11.008