As the COVID-19 pandemic has shown, infectious diseases are a serious threat worldwide, and new strategies are needed to combat them. In recent years, researchers have looked at how nanotechnology can help fight viruses. A review in Small Structures, an interdisciplinary journal that provides a new home for cutting-edge research on sub-macroscopic structures across various dimensions and multiple disciplines, summarizes the recent advances in nanomaterial-based antiviral strategies. The study looks at antiviral nano-drugs, drug nanocarriers, and nano-vaccines.

Scientists note that nano-sized particles exist in nature and can be created from a variety of products. Nanomaterials can be useful for targeted delivery of antiviral treatments, leading to improved efficacy and reduced systemic toxicity. More studies are needed before this nanotechnology can help fight viruses.

“We summarize various applications and action mechanisms of nanomaterials for antiviral use, and also discuss their advantages and shortcomings in antiviral therapy from the perspective of materials science,” the authors wrote.

Prior research from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) helped develop a system using nanoparticles for precisely delivering anti-inflammatory drugs to immune cells that have ‘gone out of control,’ while sparing their well-behaved counterparts. According to the report, the system uses nanoparticles made of tiny bits of protein designed to bind to unique receptors found only on neutrophils, a type of immune cell engaged in detrimental acute and chronic inflammatory responses.

Nanotechnology is also being deployed to monitor pulmonary diseases.