Vaccines remain the gold standard of protection against dangerous pathogens, but take considerable time and vast resources to develop. Rapidly mutating viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 can blunt their effectiveness and even render them obsolete.

To address these gaps, a multi-university team led by New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Vivek Kumar is developing a hydrogel therapy that acts as a first line of defense against viruses and other biological threats. The peptides that make up this gel prevent viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, from attaching to and entering cells. They do this by binding to a particular receptor on the invading pathogen while also aggregating into a multilayer “molecular mask” that muffles its action.

Over the course of their research, the team discovered that the molecular mask alone prevented infections. The potential advantage of this new technology, they say, is its ability to combat diverse pathogens and disease mutations. To read the full story.