Scientists from Middle East Technical University (METU) in Turkey have discovered that a mixture of odor molecules that produce an anti-viral effect could prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus through the air and its settlement in the lungs.
A study conducted by Dr. Cagdas Devrim Son, a faculty member of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, and Huseyin Erdogmus, a chemical engineer at METU, showed that once the mixture is inhaled, it reaches the lungs and alters the protein structure of COVID-19 that causes the disease.
Son and Erdogmus have published the results of the study in international journals so that other scientists can conduct clinical research.
“We experimented with more than 200 molecules and selected the best ones. We did computer simulations and determined which ones are effective against the coronavirus. It is not clear whether the dose to be inhaled will be a form of treatment for the disease or if it will be sufficient. Clinical research is needed to find out and for the public to use it,” Son said.
He noted that they tested molecules similar to those already used to treat the coronavirus and even some more effective.
“It is scientifically proven that these molecules do not harm human health. That is why we believe that the mixture of odor molecules can be used to sterilize places through large-scale ventilation in order to prevent the disease,” he added.
Erdogmus said they began the study by “imitating nature,” since all plants have natural resins and volatile oils to protect themselves from viruses and bacteria.
He stressed that the raw materials for the molecules in the mixture are inexpensive, easy to find, and abundant.
“Once inhaled, the molecules will have an effect in the body for two hours. Theoretically, we could prevent the disease by inhaling them once every two hours. But to know the results in practice, we need clinical experiments,” he added.
Since first emerging in Wuhan, China in December last year, COVID-19 has infected more than 60.7 million people worldwide and claimed more than 1.42 million lives, according to a tally by US-based Johns Hopkins University. Nearly 39 million people have recovered from the virus.