During the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been a number of emerging areas where advanced materials could have an impact in controlling not only this viral outbreak, but also future outbreaks (if and when they occur).
Aside from what many of us hear about (such as masks and diagnostics), there are a number of potential nanomedicine-based solutions that could help with the fight against the coronavirus (and other viruses).
Vaccines are the most sought-after solution for the COVID-19 pandemic and many companies and research groups are developing vaccines using traditional routes.
However, it’s also possible that nanomaterial-based vaccines could offer a potential solution, especially if a solution is not found through the usual tried and tested means; and some companies are already taking nanomaterial boosted vaccines to clinical trials.
Nanomaterials have been suggested for use in vaccines because they are thought to boost the up regulation required by the immune system, which is what directs the immune system to the specific antigens on the surface of the virus. This in turn enables antibodies to be produced which stop the spread of the virus within the body.
The main way that this is achieved is through targeted nanotherapeutic carriers which deliver the viral antigens of the coronavirus (or DNA/RNA-encoding antigens), such as the protein spike, into the body to where the immune system can encode antibodies for the virus.
There are a number of nanomaterials which are being trialled for COVID-19 vaccines, including polymeric, lipid-based and inorganic nanoparticles/nanocarriers, but it is thought that many of the carbon-based nanomaterials―including graphene, nanodiamonds and carbon nanotubes―could also be used to activate the immune system depending on how they’re functionalized.
So, while a lot is going on the area, there are still many possibilities left undiscovered.
The article series is the summery of https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acsnano.0c03697