Research published in the journal ACS Applied Nano Materials has reported that charcoal nanozymes can be a potential treatment option for COVID-19 patients. These nanozymes are potent antioxidants that degrade harmful reactive oxygen species released during injury or infections. The charcoal used to manufacture the nanozymes is highly soluble as well as biocompatible. It is a superoxide dismutase that was developed and studied by scientists from Rice University, Texas A&M, and the University of Texas Health Science.
Superoxide dismutases (SODs), break down reactive oxygen species into ordinary molecular oxygen and hydrogen peroxide. Research co-led by chemist James Tour at Rice University successfully tested previous materials for their ability to initiate the process, which included graphene quantum dots extracted from coal and polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic made from carbon nanotubes.
Using Oxidized Charcoal Nanoparticles, Researchers have discovered that oxidized charcoal nanoparticles are both effective antioxidants and cheap to make from a carbon source. Good manufacturing practice (GMP)- certified are being used in humans in the treatment of acute poisoning.
Project Leader and chemist James Tour said “That these nanozymes are made from a GMP source opens the door for drug manufacturers. Although coal was effective, an issue is that it can have a variety of toxic metallic elements and impurities that are not consistent across samples. And the clusters made from carbon nanotubes are very expensive.”
Nanozymes, disc-like in shape, are created from powdered oxidized charcoal and treated with highly concentrated nitric acid. The nanozymes contain oxygen functional groups that break down superoxide in solution. Nanozymes can pass through the membrane of cells’ mitochondria to break down ROS without harming the cells in the process. Tour et al. recently published an article that showed that oxidized activated charcoal (OAC) has great potential in the treatment of disorders with pathological superoxide levels, specifically in traumatic brain injury or stroke.
The Potential Role Of Nanozymes Against COVID-19
Researchers have suggested that it might be worthy to investigate the application of nanozymes in the treatment of cytokine storms. Cytokine storms are characterized by an excessive immune system response to infection. One notable infection that causes cytokine storms is the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) which is suspected of contributing to excessive tissue and organ damage. While the efficacy of these nanoparticles against COVID-19 is currently purely speculative, it is believed that the timely administration of these nanoparticles may minimize the harmful effects of the damaging radicals that are seen during the cytokine storm. Additionally, these nanozymes could be chemically altered to minimize other injurious features of COVID-19.