Scientists at North Carolina State have created a powder that, when inhaled, coats the airways with a protective gel that prevents respiratory infections in mice and monkeys.
We are not mice. We also are not monkeys. But, let's say these findings are replicated in humans (the FDA is evaluating this prospect now). This innovation could provide us with a game-changing tool to combat COVID and a host of other airborne viruses.
So what's actually in this product?!
The powder that Ke Cheng and his NC-State team created is comprised of polymer and gelatin microparticles. When inhaled, it enters the mucus lining of the nasal passage and lungs, and swells to form a gel layer that blocks virus penetration.
When tested in mice and monkeys, these protective particles remained in the animals' airways for roughly eight hours, providing extensive protection against heavy exposure to COVID, flu, and pneumonia-causing particles throughout that period.
And, miraculously, the gel coating never appeared to impede breathing and never yielded any perceivable side effects.
If the powder's approved for human use, an asthma-inhaler-like device can be easily developed as a delivery mechanism. And the use cases are incredibly vast. Flying somewhere? Attending a crowded concert? Take a few puffs and you're covered.
Again, much remains unknown, but this could be big.