A start-up at BITS-Pilani Hyderabad has come up with a nutraceutical formulation-based approach to reduce community transmission of coronavirus.
The BITS team, supervised by Suman Kapur, Senior Professor and Dean (Institute-wide), BITS Pilani, Hyderabad and Promoter of Xcellence in Bio Innovations (xBITS), a start-up from TBI, has come up with a formulation which can be tested in a 14-day period clinical efficacy trial, using a case control design.
“If found effective, it will make life easier for half a million Indians under quarantine in state-run facilities or at home. It has the potential to inhibit human-to-human transmission and could have a significant effect on the duration of the nationwide lockdown,” said Kapur.
This is an AYUSH-based approach and comes in response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for innovative approaches to tackle the spread of virus. The PM had interacted with representatives of Ministry of Alternative Medicines (AYUSH) and called upon experts to look into use of approaches based on AYUSH to combat the spread of this deadly pandemic.
According to Kapur: “Structurally, the virus has surface spike protein, which establishes the first contact with our nasal, buccal and pharyngeal epithelial cells, and this protein is embedded in an envelope of fat. As soap and detergents disrupt this fat layer, people worldwide are being advised to frequently use sanitisers and wash hands.”
“Decoy ligands that can bind to the spike protein and also disrupt the fat layer can actually inhibit infection/transmission of this deadly virus. It has been reported by scientists that virus grows in mouth and throat for 1-5 days’ post infection,” she added.
Application in mouthwash
“If edible, FSSAI-approved nutraceuticals rich in saponins (these disrupt fat just as soap does) and mannose and mannan-glycan binding molecules, which bind to glycoprotein “S” of the spike protein, used as a mouth and throat wash (by gargling) will certainly help,” said Kapur
“For an infected person, the viral load may be kept low and progression of infection will be slowed till their own immunity kicks in. The particles which will be shed from the infected person will be coated with mannose and mannan-binding molecules rendering the virus less effective in establishing contact with the nasal, ocular and buccal epithelial cells of the new host,” she added.
This could help develop a drink, mouthwash and a syrup tested by FSSAI-approved nutraceuticals, and also act as detergent to destroy lipid envelope of the virus and disintegrate it.
This is similar to the detergent-based approach adopted world over for hand sanitisation. This AYUSH approach seeks to wash off the virus in the mouth and throat of an infected person within the first few days of its presence.
Prashant Sinha of BITS Hyderabad Incubation Center said: “We are trying to commercialise this innovation and seek government intervention.”