Student contributor: Moni Kumari, B.Sc. Biochemistry
Coronavirus disease (COVID19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus, SARS-COV-2 (Severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2) identified in Wuhan, and responsible for Pneumonia outbreak throughout the world. This outbreak was started in China in December 2019 and become worldwide within a timeframe of a few months. World Health Organization recognized it as a pandemic on 11th March 2020. So far, more than 2 million people around the world have been infected with this virus with an increase in the number of deaths that is being reported every day. Importantly, developed nations are more affected by a higher number of casualties.
Nanotechnology is an important area of research dealing with designing noble nanoscale particles with an application in a wide area of science. Unlike other new-generation drugs having large molecular structures, nanoparticles are so small that they can move through our body and blood circulatory systems without disrupting other functions, such as our immune system. Scientists around the world are working constantly to device new nanoparticles to address the current situation of COVID-19.
This scanning electron microscope (SEM) image shows SARS-CoV-2 (round gold objects) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. The nanoscale dimension of coronavirus was revealed in this image. (Image: NIAID-RML)
- Nanoparticle diagnostic kit: Conventional diagnostic kits commercially available today for the detection of coronavirus are not very accurate and also in short of supply. Additionally. It needs the extraction of total RNA sample from the patient for detection. To overcome these problems research groups from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) design new iron oxide-based nanoparticles coated with silica. The iron oxide confers its magnetic properties to nanoparticles and silica coating gives it a strong affinity for RNA, the genetic material inside the virus that causes COVID-19. The new test uses the magnetic properties of nanoparticles to extract RNA from a solution containing a test sample from the patient. The solution contains substances that crack the virus open so that its genetic material can be extracted. RNA from the virus in the solution is strongly attracted to the silica-covered magnetic nanoparticles. The next step is to use a magnet to pull the RNA-covered particles out of the solution and submit it for RT-PCR. Importantly, this kit has been used successfully to test more than 1,50,000 COVID-19 patients in Norway.
- Nanoparticle vaccine: Vaccine is a dead or weakened antigen that provokes our immune system to create antibodies before the body is exposed to the live viruses. Scripps research from San-Diego USA is trying to develop a nanoparticle-based platform for vaccines against coronavirus. The prototype of the vaccine possesses CoV-2 spike protein protruding from a protein nanoparticle scaffold. Thus, the nanoscale platform is going to mimic like a virus (virus-like particle) which upon vaccination can induce our immune system to rapidly generate antibodies against coronavirus, offering recipient protection against the real SARS-CoV-2 virus. The Research group has recently applied for a patent with the name of one component self-assembling protein nanoparticle (1cSApNP)vaccine.
- Nanobots or Nanorobots with Theranostic properties: Researchers from Northwestern University, Illinois are trying to device more advanced nanoparticles which can possess both properties of detection and neutralization of virus particles. Theranostic is an advanced area of research of designing molecules with both diagnosis and therapeutic power. The surface of this newly designed smart nanoparticles is going to carry biological molecules (Furin peptide) that can bind coronavirus with a very high affinity and thereby detect and assemble them. The same nanoparticle can encapsulate with biological substances that can neutralize the viruses. The biological substance can be bee venom which was proven earlier in the neutralization of HIV. Biological nanoparticles are preferable in comparison to chemically synthesized particles as they have fewer side effects. Thus these smart nanoparticles can work like a nanorobots and roam around in our blood vessels while detecting and killing the pathogenic virus.
Visited 1944 times, 2 Visits today