July 19, 2024

Novel Intranasal Mask Developed to Protect the Respiratory Tract from Viral Aerosols

Researchers from two State Key Laboratories in the Institute of Process Engineering (IPE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences have successfully developed a novel intranasal mask that provides protection to the respiratory tract from viral aerosols. In experiments conducted on mice, a digital human nasal model, and a human respiratory tract model, the intranasal mask demonstrated satisfactory protection.

Respiratory infectious diseases have a significant impact on global public health, largely due to the transmission of aerosols to the respiratory tract. While the use of face masks has been a vital measure in reducing respiratory infections, their effectiveness may not be sufficient for individuals at high risk. To address this, researchers designed an intranasal mask called MV@GEL, consisting of a positively charged thermosensitive hydrogel and cell-derived microsized vesicles with viral receptors.

The intranasal mask can be sprayed into the nasal cavity at room temperature and quickly transitions from a liquid to a gel state when it reaches body temperature. The positively charged hydrogel can intercept negatively charged viral aerosols in the nasal airflow, while the viral receptors on the vesicles can interact with the virus released from the aerosols, trapping and inactivating the virus.

In experiments conducted on mice, the intranasal masks showed positive results in protecting the nasal cavity and lungs from both SARS-CoV-2 aerosols and influenza A virus aerosols. Computational fluid dynamics simulations, using computerized tomography images of the human nasal cavity, showed that the intranasal mask could intercept 93.2% of viral aerosol particles, preventing them from entering the lower respiratory tract.

Researchers also used 3D printing technology to create a model of the human nasal cavity, connected it to a culture of human lung organoids, and applied respiratory airflow using a pump. This integrated model closely replicated a human nasal cavity and simulated infection in the human lung, further confirming the effectiveness of MV@GEL against viral aerosols and the suitability of intranasal masks for use in humans.

The intranasal mask developed in this study provides broad protection against multiple viral variants, as the binding of the virus to the viral receptor is independent of mutation. The researchers believe that the MV@GEL system has the potential to be a flexible platform against various viral aerosols, considering the ease of engineering the viral receptor on the vesicles.

Peer reviewers from the scientific journal Nature Communications have lauded the research as interesting and exciting, noting that the proposed strategy could significantly improve prevention measures for infectious diseases and have a considerable impact on public health.

In summary, the development of this novel intranasal mask marks a significant advancement in protecting the respiratory tract from viral aerosols. The positive results seen in experiments conducted on mice and human models demonstrate the potential for this technology to be used as a protective measure against respiratory infections in high-risk individuals. With further research and development, intranasal masks could become a critical tool in reducing the spread of infectious diseases.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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