There is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2.
Since the outbreak began in late 2019, researchers have been racing to learn more about SARS-CoV-2, which is a strain from a family of viruses known as coronavirus for their crown-like shape.
Northeastern chemical engineering professor Thomas Webster, who specializes in developing nano-scale medicine and technology to treat diseases, is part of a contingency of scientists that are contributing ideas and technology to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.
The idea of using nanoparticles, Webster says, is that the virus behind COVID-19 consists of a structure of a similar scale as his nanoparticles. At that scale, matter is ultra-small, about ten thousand times smaller than the width of a single strand of hair.
Webster is proposing particles of similar sizes that could attach to SARS-CoV-2 viruses, disrupting their structure with a combination of infrared light treatment. That structural change would then halt the ability of the virus to survive and reproduce in the body.
“You have to think in this size range,” says Webster, who is Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering at Northeastern. “In the nanoscale size range, if you want to detect viruses, if you want to deactivate them.”
Finding and neutralizing viruses with nanomedicine is at the core of what Webster and other researchers call theranostics, which focuses on combining therapy and diagnosis. Using that approach, his lab has specialized in nanoparticles to fight the microbes that cause influenza and tuberculosis.
“It’s not just having one approach to detect whether you have a virus and another approach to use it as a therapy,” he says, “but having the same particle, the same approach, for both your detection and therapy.”
SARS-CoV-2 spreads mostly through tiny droplets of viral particles—from breathing, talking, sneezing, coughing—that enter the body through the eyes, mouth, or nose. Preliminary research also suggests that those germs may survive for days when they attach themselves to countertops, handrails, and other hard surfaces.
Image Credit: Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University
News This Week
Coronavirus hits the old and those with other health problems hardest, but fit, youthful people are dying too, and experts are trying to understand why: It remains one of the biggest puzzles of the [...]
he past few weeks have revealed the worst and the best in human responses to the coronavirus crisis – from the supermarket hoarders clearing the shelves to the neighbourhood groups organising help for elderly [...]
An Oxford-based firm that uses artificial intelligence to develop new medicines has teamed up with a UK national science facility to screen more than 15,000 drugs for their effectiveness as a treatment for Covid-19. [...]
New research has shed light on a crucial biological mechanism that may have helped the coronavirus to infect humans and spread rapidly around the world. A detailed analysis of the virus’s structure shows that [...]
How does the COVID-19 pandemic compare to other infamous viral infections that have plagued us in modern times? It’s a question that’s been asked repeatedly in social media circles in recent weeks as people [...]
There is no vaccine or specific treatment for COVID-19, the disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or SARS-CoV-2. Since the outbreak began in late 2019, researchers have been racing to [...]
Corona Virus (COVID 19) Interview with Michael Osterholm an expert in infectious disease epidemiology.
Michael Osterholm is an internationally recognized expert in infectious disease epidemiology. He is Regents Professor, McKnight Presidential Endowed Chair in Public Health, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy [...]
With the new coronavirus spreading from person to person (possibly including from people without symptoms), reaching four continents, and traveling faster than SARS, driving it out of existence is looking increasingly unlikely. It’s still [...]
Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists have improved upon the 3D bioprinting technique they developed to engineer skeletal muscle as a potential therapy for replacing diseased or damaged muscle tissue, moving another [...]
An international team of scientists from the University of Southampton, the University of Padova, and the University of Zurich has connected a silicon neuron to a neuron from the rat hippocampus with an artificial [...]
In an insightful 42-minute interview, NMIN’s Scientific Director Dr. Pieter Cullis, a pioneer in liposomal gene and drug delivery, discusses his scientific career with a focus on his contributions to the evolution of [...]
A powerful antibiotic that kills some of the most dangerous drug-resistant bacteria in the world has been discovered using artificial intelligence. The drug works in a different way to existing antibacterials and is the [...]
Artificial intelligence hit a big milestone in January — the first drug designed entirely using artificial intelligence entered human clinical trials. The compound, created by Oxford-based biotech company Exscientia, is aimed at treating obsessive-compulsive [...]
Researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in the US have uncovered the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of most viruses which plague mankind, and could soon develop a universal vaccine. Vaccine research, development and testing takes [...]
Every age in the history of human civilisation has a signature material, from the Stone Age, to the Bronze and Iron Ages. We might even call today’s information-driven society the Silicon Age. Since the [...]