Researchers at MIT have found that ultrasound waves at medical imaging frequencies may help damage the Coronavirus's physical structure.
The researchers' focus is on solid and structural mechanics and the study of how materials fracture under various stresses and strains. As COVID-19 made inroads to virtually the whole planet, the team sought to understand the virus's fracture potential.
The coronaviruses include a family of viruses that's HIV, influenza, and the novel SARS-CoV-2 strain. Their physical structure comprises large, roughly spherical particles with unique surface projections. Their structure consists of a smooth shell of lipid proteins and densely packed, spike-like receptors protruding.
The researchers used computer simulations to model the virus's mechanical response to vibrations across various ultrasound frequencies. They found that vibrations between 25-100 megahertz (i.e., frequencies within the range safe for medical imaging) triggered the virus's shells and spikes to collapse and rupture within a fraction of a millisecond. Tomasz Wierzbicki, professor of applied mechanics at MIT, said that ultrasound excitation "could break certain parts of the virus, doing visible damage to the outer shell and possibly invisible damage to the RNA inside." This effect was seen in simulations of the virus in simulated air and water environments similar in density to fluids in the body.
While acknowledging the limitations of the modeling due to uncertainties about the virus' exact physical properties and data regarding its physical integrity, the researchers state that this study is a good starting point to understand what would cause the virus' to rupture. Wierzbicki stresses that there is much more research to confirm whether ultrasound can be an effective treatment and prevention strategy against coronaviruses and is working with his team on refining and validating their simulations with experimental data.
Even biomedical engineering researchers at the University of Minnesota and clinical colleagues from the University of Minnesota Medical School's Division of Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases are examining if ultrasound may be an effective treatment for the novel Coronavirus. They are conducting research that could be beneficial for the hyper inflammation in the lungs frequently experienced by patients exposed to COVID-19 and collaborating with medical professionals worldwide to collect data on the use of ultrasound stimulation to treat COVID-19. Hubert Lim, a biomedical engineering associate professor at the Medical School University of Minnesota, confirms that the data they have collected so far "has been encouraging."
Even though the scientists have said that further studies are required to examine the scope of ultra-sound vibrations in treating Coronavirus, since the research is published and peer-reviewed, saying that ultra-sound has the 'potential to treat Coronavirus is True.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19 including symptoms, prevention and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organisation or your national healthcare authority.