Ultrasound scans like those used to track the growth of a foetus can destroy coronavirus cells by forcing their surface to split apart and implode, new research suggests. MIT researchers conducted a mathematical analysis based on the physical properties of generic coronavirus cells. It revealed medical ultrasound scans may be able to damage the virus’s shell and spikes, leading to collapse and rupture.
Ultrasounds are already used as a treatment for kidney stones but the MIT team are calling for further research on its viability as a treatment for Covid-19.
Computer simulations created a model of a general coronavirus, the family which includes Covid-19, flu and HIV.
They found that between 25 and 100 MHz the cell surface of the coronavirus splits apart and collapses in less than one millisecond. At 100MHz the computer model revealed the shell of the virus collapses because it resonates with the membrane’s natural vibration frequency. This is a phenomenon which occurs when a specific wave frequency aligns with the inherent properties of a material, continuously amplifying the vibrations.
The quirk of physics is the same mechanism which allows opera singers to smash wine glasses and is also a problem for bridge builders. If the frequency of wind or footsteps aligns with the natural properties of the bridge, it wobbles out of control.
This is exactly what happened in the year 2000 when the Millenium Bridge in London opened and the footsteps of people caused it to sway significantly.
This occured at two MHz, but for the virus, the 100MHz waves caused resonation. Within a fraction of a second the surface of the model virus distorted and buckled.
At 25 and 50MHz, the process was sped up even further.
‘These frequencies and intensities are within the range that is safely used for medical imaging,’ says Tomasz Wierzbicki, professor of applied mechanics at MIT and lead author of the study.
The scientists say the results are based on patchy data of the virus’ physical properties and should be interpreted with caution.
However, it opens up the possibility that coronavirus infections, including Covid-19, could one day be treated by ultrasounds.
Several issues surround the feasibility of such a therapeutic technique….
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