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IIT-Bombay developing nasal gel for health workers against COVID-19

IIT-Bombay developing nasal gel for health workers against COVID-19

The latest to join India's battle against the dreaded coronavirus is IIT-Bombay. The Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering (DBB), IIT-Bombay, is developing a gel that can be applied to the nasal passage making the virus inactive as well as reduce community transmission of COVID-19. This will be specially helpful in protecting healthcare workers.

According to a press release by the government, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) is supporting this initiative to capture and inactivate the novel corona virus, the causative agent of COVID-19. DST has approved funding for this innovative research which will help the IIT-Bombay team develop the gel for the nasal passage – a major entry point of the corona virus. This will not only protect health workers but also lead to reduction in community transmission of COVID-19, thereby helping disease management.

Given the contagious nature of COVID-19, health providers including doctors and nurses are at maximum risk while taking care of COVID-19 patients, particularly asymptomatic ones who cannot be detected and pose a greater risk in spreading the disease.

The team is planning a two-pronged approach to limit transmission of the virus. The first component of the strategy will be to inhibit binding of viruses to host cells. While this is expected to reduce host cell infection, viruses will still remain active, therefore, raising the need to inactivate them. Secondly, biological molecules would be incorporated, which would inactivate the trapped viruses in a manner similar to that of detergents. Upon completion, this approach will lead to development of gels that can be locally applied in the nasal cavity.

Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST said, "The nasal gel being developed in conjunction with other protective measures, will provide a strong extra layer of defense"..