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New Nasal Spray may cure COVID-19 infections

New Nasal Spray may Cure COVID-19 infections

     A nasal spray that blocks the absorption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has completely protected ferrets it was tested on, according to a study released in November by an international team of scientists. The study, which was limited to animals, and has not yet been peer-reviewed, was assessed by several health experts with very positive results.

     If the spray, which scientists described as non-toxic and stable, is proved to work in humans, it could provide a new way of fighting the pandemic. A daily spritz up the nose would act like a vaccine.

     The work has been underway for months by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and Cornel University in Ithaca, New York. The study was funded by the National Institutes of health and the Columbia University medical Center.

     The team is in the process of acquiring additional funding to pursue clinical trials in humans. Dr.Anne Moscana, a pediatrician and microbiologist at Columbia University and co-author of the study indicated they had applied for a patent on this new nasal spray. They have also applied to the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed and large pharmaceutical companies that are looking for new ways to combat the virus.

     The spray attacks the virus directly. It contains a lipopeptide, a cholesterol particle linked to a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This particular lipopeptide exactly matches a stretch of amino acids in the spike protein of the virus, which the pathogen uses to attach to a human airway or lung cell.

     Before a virus can inject its RNA into a cell, the spike must effectively unzip, exposing two chains of amino acids, in order to fuse to the cell wall. As the spike zips back up to complete the process, the lipopeptide in the spray inserts itself, latching on to one of the spike’s amino acid chains and preventing the virus from attaching. It’s as if you were trying to zip up a zipper but another zipper has been placed inside so the two sides cannot meet.

     The work was described in a paper posted to the preprint server bioRxiv and has been submitted to the Journal Science for peer review.

     In the study, the spray was given to 60 ferrets, which were divided into pairs and placed in separate cages. Into each cage went two ferrets that had been given a placebo spray and one ferret that had been deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 a day or two earlier.

     Ferrets are used by scientists studying flu, severe acute respiratory syndrome and other respiratory diseases because they can catch viruses through their nose much as humans do, although they also infect each other by contact with feces or by scratching and biting (as some humans do).

     After 24hours together, none of the sprayed ferrets caught the disease; all the placebo-group ferrets did.  Virus replication was completely blocked.

     The protective spray attaches to cells in the nose and lungs and lasts about 24 hours. If this works as well in humans, you could sleep in a bed with someone infected or be with your infected kids and still be safe.

     The lipoprotein can be inexpensively produced as a freeze-dried white powder that does not need refrigeration. A pharmacist could then mix the powder with sugar and water to produce a nasal spray.

     Although vaccines can be very effective at treating pandemics, there is nothing better than a guaranteed treatment that does not allow it to infect us in the first place. Hopefully this will be one of many new treatments that eventually reduce the COCVID-19 virus to nothing but a nuisance that can be prevented.