IIT Bombay scientists working on a gel for nasal passage as prevention for COVID 19

Funded by DST, the gel is expected to be ready in nine months

Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering (DBB), IIT Bombay is working on project for capturing and inactivation of novel corona virus, the causative agent of COVID-19 through a nasal gel. Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), is supporting development of this technology.

The conceived gel technology is that it can be applied to nasal passage, which is a major entry point of the corona virus. The team is planning a 2-pronged approach to limit transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the causative agent of COVID-19.

Primarily, since viruses replicate within host cells of the lungs, 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. Kiran Kondabagil, Prof. Rinti Banerjee, Prof. Ashutosh Kumar and Prof. Shamik Sen from the Dept. of Biosciences & Bioengineering at IIT Bombay will be part of this project. The team has expertise in the areas encompassing virology, structural biology, biophysics, biomaterials, and drug delivery and it is expected that the technology would be ready in about 9 months.

This solution is not only expected to protect the safety of health workers, but can 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.

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