Researchers say Coronavirus may be vulnerable to ultrasound vibrations

By Rabia Shireen

As per the study that used computer simulations, coronaviruses, including SARS-CoV-2. may be susceptible to ultrasound vibrations within the frequencies used in medical diagnostic imaging.

The researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US patterned the coronaviruses’ mechanical response to vibrations over a range of ultrasound frequencies.

At the lower frequencies of 25 MHz and 50 MHz, the virus’s shell and spikes were triggered to collapse. Within a fraction of a millisecond, they start to rupture, both in simulated air conditions and water similar to the body fluids’ density. the researchers said, including Tomasz Wierzbicki, professor of applied mechanics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Its findings are the first hint at a possible ultrasound-based treatment for coronaviruses, including the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, the researchers said.

“We’ve proven that under ultrasound excitation, the coronavirus shell and spikes will vibrate, and the amplitude of that vibration will be very large. Producing strains that could break certain parts of the virus, doing visible damage to the outer shell and possibly invisible damage to the RNA inside,” said Tomasz Wierzbicki,

The coronavirus structure is a familiar image, with its densely packed surface receptors resembling a thorny crown. These spike-like proteins clasp onto the healthy cells and trigger the invasion of viral RNA. While the virus geometry and infection strategy are generally understood, little is known about its physical integrity, the researchers said.

They said that it is yet to be investigated how exactly ultrasound could be applied and how effective it would be in destructing the virus within the human body’s complexity.

In their study, published in the Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, the team initiated acoustic vibrations into the simulations. also observed how the vibrations ruffle through virus structure across a range of ultrasound frequencies.

The team began with vibrations of 100 MHz, or 100 million cycles per second, which they predicted would be the shell’s natural vibrating frequency. based on what’s known of the physical properties of the virus. When the virus was exposed to 100 MHz ultrasound excitations, the virus’ natural vibrations were initially undetectable.

However, within fractions of a millisecond, the external vibrations, resonating with the virus’s frequency of natural oscillations, caused. the shell and spikes to deform inward, similar to a ball that dimples as it bounces off the ground.
As the researchers enhanced the amplitude, or intensity, of the vibrations. the shell could fracture an acoustic phenomenon known as a resonance that also explains how opera singers can crack a wineglass if they sing at just the right pitch and volume.

“These frequencies and intensities are within the range that is safely used for medical imaging,” Wierzbicki added.

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