Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Oral saline spray may slash spread of exhaled pathogens

30.11.2004


Finding could dampen contagiousness of individuals most likely to spread germs when sick



Some individuals exhale many more pathogen-laden droplets than others in the course of ordinary breathing, scientists have found, but oral administration of a safe saline spray every six hours might slash exhalation of germs in this group by an average 72 percent.
The researchers, at Harvard University and biotechnology firms Pulmatrix and Inamed, report results from their clinical study of 11 healthy males this week on the web site of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Their work may help decrease the spread of bacteria and viruses responsible for airborne infectious diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis, and SARS.

"We found a sharp demarcation between individuals who are ’high’ and ’low’ producers of bioaerosols, small droplets of fluid exhaled from the lungs that may carry airborne pathogens," says lead author David A. Edwards, Gordon McKay Professor of the Practice of Biomedical Engineering in Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences. "Roughly half our subjects exhaled tens of bioaerosol particles per liter, while the other half exhaled thousands of these particles. The number of exhaled particles varied dramatically over time and among subjects, ranging from a low of one particle per liter to a high of more than 10,000."



These results led Edwards and his co-authors to conclude that roughly half the population –- 6 of 11 individuals in their study –- may produce more than 98 percent of all potentially pathogenic bioaerosols.

The researchers found that a six-minute inhalation of aerosolized salt-water solution, often used in the treatment of asthma, can markedly reduce the number of bioaerosol particles exhaled by these "high-producers" for up to six hours. Using a cough machine designed to simulate normal human breathing, they linked the reduction in droplet exhalation after saline administration to increased surface tension among fluids lining human airways, producing larger bioaerosol droplets that are less likely to remain airborne and exit through the mouth. "Administration of nebulized saline to individuals with viral or bacterial illnesses could dramatically reduce spread of these pathogens without interfering with any other treatments," Edwards says. "This work could also point the way to new hygiene protocols in clinical settings as well as enclosed spaces."

It has long been known that exhaled bioaerosol particles constitute an important vector for the spread of infectious diseases, although the work by Edwards and colleagues is the first to suggest that a distinct subset of the human population may be far more likely to spread pathogens via bioaerosols. Viruses known to spread from humans and animals through breathing, sneezing, and coughing include those responsible for measles, influenza, foot and mouth disease, chicken pox, bronchitis, smallpox, and SARS. Airborne bacteria include anthrax, Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Francisella tularensis, and tuberculosis.

Edwards’ co-authors include Howard Stone in Harvard’s Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Edward Nardell at Harvard Medical School; Jonathan C. Man and Jeffrey P. Katstra at Pulmatrix; and Peter Brand, K. Sommerer, and Gerhard Scheuch at Inamed. The work was supported by Pulmatrix.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Optical Coherence Tomography: German-Japanese Research Alliance hosted Medical Imaging Conference

19.11.2018 | Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

New materials: Growing polymer pelts

19.11.2018 | Materials Sciences

Earthquake researchers finalists for supercomputing prize

19.11.2018 | Information Technology

Controlling organ growth with light

19.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>