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Scientists Call for Research on Mouthrinses with Potential to Reduce SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

A group of Cardiff University School of Medicine scientists are calling for urgent research into whether mouthrinses could reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the early stages of infection.

A group of Cardiff University School of Medicine scientists are calling for urgent research into whether mouthrinses could reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in the early stages of infection. While some oral rinses contain agents that may have the potential to damage the virus’ lipid membrane, their effect on the novel coronavirus has yet to be tested in the United Kingdom (UK). 

The review of the literature assessed existing mouthrinse formulations to analyze their ability to disturb the novel coronavirus lipid envelope. The team of researchers from  the universities of Cardiff in the United Kingdom, Nottingham, Colorado, Ottawa, Barcelona and Cambridge’s Babraham Institute notes that several mouthrinses deserve clinical evaluation. In their work, investigators said previous studies demonstrated the select agents, such as povidone-iodine and cetylpyridinium, could penetrate the lipid membranes of other viruses. 

“As this is an ‘enveloped’ virus with a lipid membrane that can be disrupted, we wondered whether it might be sensitive to the antimicrobial actions of common mouthrinse components that are widely available.  If it is, then targeting the virus in this way might in theory reduce the amount of virus being transmitted to others—even transiently,” says Valerie O’Donnell, codirector of Cardiff University’s Systems Immunity Research Institute, and lead author of the literature review. “This approach could help with reducing transmission from or to healthcare workers or vulnerable people.” The research could include evaluating existing, or specifically formulated, mouthrinses in the lab and through clinical trials.

We are looking at sources of funding to start work on this, and also setting up collaborations with other groups interested in this topic.  We have heard that there are a number of groups independently already conducting human studies and we are very interested to hear how their studies progress,” O’Donnell adds. 

Researchers in the United States have been studying the effect of mouthrinses on the virus. UConn Health researchers published a study demonstrating that rinsing with a diluted version of povidone-Iodine (PVP-I) inactivated SARS CoV-2 in the laboratory. Their research shows PVP-I killed the virus and prevented transmission in as little as 15 seconds at a concentration of 0.5%. The paper, “Rapid In‐Vitro Inactivation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS‐CoV‐2) Using Povidone‐Iodine Oral Antiseptic Rinse,”  was published in the Journal of Prosthodontics.

The UK review of the literature, “Potential Role of Oral Rinses Targeting the Viral Lipid Envelope in SARS-CoV-2 Infection,” is now available in Function. 

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