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EDITORIAL: Another tool in the fight vs. virus?
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EDITORIAL: Another tool in the fight vs. virus?

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We continually hear about ways to prevent contracting and spreading COVID-19: wearing masks, washing hands, using hand sanitizer and practicing social distancing. Not as if it is some magical solution to add to the list, but the American Physiological Society has another recommendation.

Readily available dental mouthwashes have the potential to destroy the lipid envelope of coronaviruses, combating virus replication in the mouth and throat. Findings regarding mouthwashes are presented in a review article published in the APS journal Function.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the APS was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. It represents 9,000 members and publishes 16 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

"Emerging studies increasingly demonstrate the importance of the throat and salivary glands as sites of virus replication and transmission in early COVID-19 disease. SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus, characterised by an outer lipid membrane derived from the host cell from which it buds. While it is highly sensitive to agents that disrupt lipid bio-membranes, there has been no discussion about the potential role of oral rinsing in preventing transmission," the research team wrote.

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"Here, we review known mechanisms of viral lipid membrane disruption by widely available dental mouthwash components that include ethanol, chlorhexidine, cetylpyridinium chloride, hydrogen peroxide and povidone-iodine. We also assess existing formulations for their potential ability to disrupt the SARS-CoV-2 lipid envelope, based on their concentrations of these agents, and conclude that several deserve clinical evaluation."

Notably, the lipid envelope does not vary when viruses mutate. This means that if the strategy is deemed effective, it should still work against any new coronavirus strains that emerge.

A multidisciplinary international team of scientists and clinicians led by researchers at the Cardiff University School of Medicine co-authored the Evidence Review, while industry partners provided global formulation information. This article is the first of a new style review article, with conclusions entirely based on precisely referenced original peer-reviewed articles.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

APS concludes there is legitimate and urgent need to test the effectiveness dental mouthwashes via clinical trials. In combatting COVID-19, this potentially is a simple and effective method. And with the reality that COVID-19 won’t be the last virus humanity will face, another tool in the chest for fighting them is needed.

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