ECU researchers discover potential treatment for COVID-19 with new nanotechnology

GREENVILLE, NC (WNCT) – A pair of researchers from Eastern Carolina University Brody School of Medicine have found that new nanotechnology may have therapeutic benefits in treating SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The patented ECU technology is called “SNAT”, for Smart Nano-Enabled Antiviral Therapy.

The researchers, Dr. Lok Pokhrel, assistant professor of toxicology in Brody’s Department of Public Health, and Dr. Shaw Akula, virologist and associate professor in Brody’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, used hamsters to test the ability of the SNAT to inhibit infection caused by COVID-19. After 14 days, results showed that SNAT reduced virus in oral swabs, reversed body weight loss and improved lung function in hamsters compared to those who had not been infected with the virus.

Pokhrel and Akula wanted to create more accessible treatment in regions or countries with poor infrastructure.

“Current vaccinations as well as therapeutics, they are either given intravenously or they are oral pills against COVID-19, right. And delivering or processing these options requires healthcare facilities, which have been overwhelmed during the pandemic. So we wanted to find an alternative solution, in which case people can get the drug as an over-the-counter inhaler or nebulizer and treat them at home.

Dr. Lok Pokhrel

Compared to other treatments currently on the market, their drug is easier to maintain. It doesn’t need special refrigeration or storage, it can be stored for up to three years at room temperature, which is a big deal for processing options in countries like Africa or Asia, according to Researchers.

They also say it’s “very safe for lung cells, skin cells and also non-irritating to the eyes.”

SNAT is currently in its preclinical phase. The next step in phase one and two of the clinical trials is to test the efficacy in humans. Pokhrel and Akula say the technology is adaptable, allowing other researchers to test new viruses for any future outbreaks or pandemics.

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