New Biomaterials-Based Vaccines, Surfaces Could Combat Viral Infections

Progress in the fields of nanotechnology and biomaterials could result in crucial advancements in the fight against hazardous viruses like the novel coronavirus that is responsible for causing COVID-19.

Researchers are studying the ways biomaterials can be used both to strengthen vaccines to fight viruses in the body and to build surfaces that would fight virus cells that landed on them.
Researchers are studying the ways biomaterials can be used both to strengthen vaccines to fight viruses in the body and to build surfaces that would fight virus cells that landed on them. Image Credit: Sushma Kumari.

Scientists from the Indian Institute of Science propose two probabilities being examined by researchers in the field to render vaccines more efficient and develop surfaces that could fight and destroy viruses by themselves. The study has been published in APL Bioengineering from AIP Publishing.

It is important not just in terms of COVID. We’ve seen SARS, and MERS, and Ebola, and a lot of other viral infections that have come and gone. COVID has, of course, taken a different turn altogether. Here, we wanted to see how biomaterials could be useful.

Kaushik Chatterjee, Study Author, Indian Institute of Science

Biomaterials are those materials designed to interact with other biological systems in one way or the other. Examples of biomaterials are surgical mesh, dental implants, drug delivery systems and joint replacements.

At the same time, the focus of nanotechnology is on the development of small structures and devices at the microscopic level. It has been employed in the medical field to target particular tissues or cells.

The mixture of the two could pave the way for more effective vaccines against viruses. Although certain existing vaccines are already effective, the authors noted that biomaterials-based nanoparticles could someday render them more powerful.

It is a means of stimulating the immune cells which produce antibodies during the vaccination. It is like a helper, like priming the cells. Now, the moment they see the protein, the cells are more responsive to it and would be secreting more antibodies.

Sushma Kumari, Study Author, Indian Institute of Science

Meanwhile, scientists have been looking for ways in which the technology could be employed to check the spread of viruses in the world around humans. At present, the methods employed to disinfect surfaces in public places, from traditional cleaning to aerosols to ultraviolet light, would require huge time and effort.

Budding bioengineering technologies would help make antiviral surfaces that can disinfect themselves.

As viruses end up as droplets on various surfaces, the next person touching that could be picking up the disease.

Kaushik Chatterjee, Study Author, Indian Institute of Science

Adding a natural charge on the surface or designing it at the nano-level in a pattern uncongenial for the virus would help develop suits, PPE, masks, doorknobs, hospital beds and other items that automatically damage or kill a virus.

According to the authors, this study is in its initial stages. Most of the work remains to be done to identify which among several biomaterials might be the most effective ones in fighting against the viruses, and a solution for one disease will probably not be the same for others.

Hopefully, this review and this kind of discussion will get researchers to think about how to use the knowledge that’s out there,” concluded Chatterjee.

Journal Reference:

Kumari, S & Chatterjee, K (2021) Biomaterials-based formulations and surfaces to combat viral infectious diseases. APL Bioengineering. doi.org/10.1063/5.0029486.

Source: https://www.aip.org/

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Submit