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Nanotechnology in the fight against viruses

More than 6.5 million cases of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection have been reported in Poland since March 2020. The pandemic has forced the whole world to adapt to new conditions. On how nanotechnology can solve the problems of viral infections, including coronavirus, writes Prof Joanna Gościańska, from the AMU Faculty of Chemistry, who co-authored an article published in the prestigious scientific journal Advanced Functional Materials.

Emerging and recurrent cases of viral infections are a significant concern and a major public health challenge. In most countries, acute viral infections are prevented or controlled through widespread vaccination and improved sanitation. Consequently, cases of measles, yellow fever, and rabies rarely occur in developed countries. The health crisis of the 21st century caused by the spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) involved adaptation to new conditions, uncertainty about the future and enormous psychological strain. Each day, there were reports of new symptoms and cases of infection. Most people passed the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection mildly or even asymptomatically. Unfortunately, some patients developed respiratory failure, resulting in death. The worldwide efforts of researchers have been centred on the growth of new diagnostic methods and effective therapies, exploiting the potential offered by nanotechnology.

The publication, authored by Prof Joanna Gościańska from the Faculty of Chemistry of the Adam Mickiewicz University, Dr Ralph Freund from the University of Augsburg and Prof Stefan Wuttke from the BCMaterials Centre in Leioa, outlines the potential of nanotechnology to solve current problems in the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of viral infections.
The synthesis of nanocarrier-based medicines and vaccines with increased efficacy and reduced side effects, the design of personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, medical clothing) and nanoparticle-based self-disinfecting surfaces, and strategies for the development of nanobiosensors for the early detection of viral infections were the focus. The results of laboratory-scale research are positively promising. Nevertheless, thinking about the commercialisation of nanotechnology-based medical products, it is essential to consider how to reduce their price and make them more reliable compared to existing solutions.

Read more on Nanoscience versus Viruses: The SARS-CoV-2 Case.