New nasal spray treatments may be able to immunize high-risk people with COVID-19 for a short period of time.
Developed by scientists at the University of Helsinki in Finland, this treatment has been shown in laboratory studies to be capable of blocking coronavirus infections for up to 8 hours.
It has not yet been tested in humans and laboratory studies have not yet been peer-reviewed.
This nasal spray is intended for use by patients with immunodeficiency and other patients who are seriously vulnerable to Covid.
It works by blocking the virus from replicating in the nose, and in laboratory studies it is good for all variants, unlike common monoclonal antibody therapies, which are less effective against Omicron. It worked.
Treatment cannot replace vaccines, but it can provide additional protection for people in need of additional immune system enhancements and may be the basis for other future treatments.
A new nasal spray developed by researchers at the University of Helsinki may be able to prevent infection in immunocompromised patients (file image)
In laboratory studies, this treatment was able to prevent viral replication-for several different variants, including Delta and Omicron.
People with immunodeficiency are weakening their immune system due to cancer treatments, organ transplants, HIV infections, and other conditions.
These people are extremely vulnerable to severe Covid symptoms. Also, common vaccine series may not be able to strengthen the immune system enough to effectively protect against the virus.
As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all immunocompromised Americans over the age of 5 receive additional vaccines.
Within the next few months, the agency may also recommend that people with immunodeficiency take a fourth shot.
Israel has already recommended a fourth dose to immunocompromised residents, healthcare professionals, and adults over the age of 60.
In addition to continuous vaccination, many researchers are currently pursuing treatment specifically for immunocompromised and other high-risk people who can supplement vaccination.
For example, in December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved monoclonal antibody therapy with AstraZeneca designed to prevent Covid infections in high-risk patients.
New nasal spray treatments being developed by scientists at the University of Helsinki may also be a useful option for these patients.
Treatment was described in a preprint posted in late December, but has not yet been peer-reviewed.
“Its preventative use is aimed at protecting against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” Karle Saksela, a virologist at the University of Helsinki and lead author of the study, told Gizmodo in an email.
“But it’s not a vaccine, and it’s not intended to be a substitute for a vaccine,” Saxela said. , People receiving immunosuppressive therapy.
This new drug is based on previous studies showing that the tissue in the nose is a major spot for coronavirus replication.
After multiplying in the nose, the virus usually travels through the respiratory tract to the lungs, where it causes more serious symptoms.
As a result, sending anticovid antibodies directly to the nose can prevent the virus from replicating at the earliest possible stage of the disease.
Nasal spray treatment uses lab-made antibodies developed on the basis of some of the viruses that have not been altered by various variants or strains.
Treatment by Helsinki researchers uses a type of laboratory-made antibody that resembles a monoclonal antibody.
However, unlike monoclonal antibodies, the immune system particles used for treatment are smaller and more versatile.
These antibodies are made from some of the viruses that have changed little between different variants and strains.
To increase the potential of nasal drops to neutralize Covid, researchers have combined three of these antibodies into one drug.
Researchers first tested the drug against a pseudovirus, a laboratory-made virus that mimics the coronavirus.
In this test, the drug was able to block viral replication in the original Wuhan strain and in beta, delta, and omicron variants.
Next, the researchers tested the drug against human cells in cell culture. Once again, it was able to neutralize several different coronavirus variants.
Finally, the researchers tested the drug in mice-the experimental mice were given a nasal spray and then followed up with a nasal inoculation of coronavirus.
In untreated mice, the coronavirus spread to the nasal passages, respiratory tract, and lungs.
Coronavirus did not spread at all in mice treated with nasal drops. Researchers write that these animals were “absent of viral antigens” and showed no symptoms.
The researchers found that the treatment was able to protect the mice from coronavirus infection for up to 8 hours.
This study has not yet been peer-reviewed and requires more steps before testing nasal sprays in humans.
Sprays can be considered pharmaceuticals by regulatory agencies in some countries and medical devices in others, which can complicate the process for approval.
Lead author Saxela was optimistic about the potential of this drug in an interview with Gizmodo.
“This technology is cheap and productive, and inhibitors work equally well for all mutants,” he said.
“It also works against the now extinct SARS virus, so it may also serve as an emergency measure for the new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-3 and -4).”
Monoclonal antibody therapy commonly used in the United States is less effective against Omicron than past viral strains.
However, this nasal spray should be effective against Omicron and other new variants because it is based on some of the viruses that have not changed during the mutation.
In addition to Covid treatment, Helsinki researchers may pursue similar sprays for other respiratory infections.