Researchers from Columbia University have developed a nasal spray which they claim has managed to successfully prevent COVID-19 infections in tests which included both 3D models of human lungs and in tests with ferrets.
The nasal spray contains a compound called lipopeptide, a combination of lipid and peptide, that prevents COVID-19 from fusing with a target cell’s membrane. It is able to do this by blocking a key protein from adopting a necessary shape. In order for the SARS-CoV-2 to fuse with cells, it needs to unfold its spike protein before contracting into a compact bundle that drives the fusion. The compound developed by the researchers recognises the SARS-CoV-2 spike, wedges itself into the unfolded region, and prevents the spike protein from adopting the compact shape necessary for fusion.
Researchers note the spray should work immediately and last for at least 24 hours. It is also inexpensive to produce, has a long shelf life, and does not require refrigeration.
“One lesson we want to stress is the importance of applying basic science to develop treatments for viruses that affect human populations globally. The fruits of our earlier research led to our rapid application of the methods to COVID-19,” said Anne Moscona, MD, and Matteo Porotto, PhD, professors in the Department of Pediatrics.
— Medical Xpress (@medical_xpress) November 9, 2020
The nasal spray is however still a long way from reaching store shelves, as it would need to go through extensive human clinical trials, receive approval from the likes of the FDA, and go through large-scale production to be able to reach people around the world. The researchers behind the spray do, however, plan to “rapidly advance” the next phase of testing.
Moscona and Porotto believe the nasal spray could be used by people who can’t take vaccines, or by people who are not generally affected by vaccinations. They could simply spray themselves daily to ensure they’d be safe from contracting the virus.