By Tony Winterburn • 10 November 2020 • 11:29
Nasal Spray Could Prevent Coronavirus Transmission After it Blocked Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets.
A nasal antiviral spray created by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons blocked transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets, suggesting the nasal spray also may prevent infection in people exposed to the new coronavirus.
The compound in the nasal spray—a lipopeptide developed by Anne Moscona, MD, and Matteo Porotto, PhD, professors in the Department of Pediatrics and directors of the Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction—is designed to prevent the new coronavirus from entering host cells, and it seems it is capable of doing just that.
The antiviral lipopeptide is inexpensive to produce, has a long shelf life, and does not require refrigeration. These features make it stand out from other antiviral approaches under development, including monoclonal antibodies. The new nasal lipopeptide could be ideal for halting the spread of COVID in the United States and globally; the transportable and stable compound could be especially key in rural, low-income, and hard-to-reach populations like India and Brazil for example.
Ferrets are often used as animals in studies of respiratory diseases because their lungs resemble those of humans. In addition, ferrets are highly susceptible to being infected with coronavirus and spreading it to other ferrets as occurs with people. The lipopeptides – small proteins joined to a cholesterol or tocopherol molecule – used in this study were developed by Drs Anne Moscona and Matteo Porotto, professors in the Department of Pediatrics.
They have been used to prevent infection from measles and the Nipah virus, which is a bat-borne disease. ‘One lesson we want to stress is the importance of applying basic science to develop treatments for viruses that affect human populations globally,’ Moscona and Porotto said in a joint statement. The fruits of our earlier research led to our rapid application of the methods to COVID-19.’
Ferrets are part of the family Mustelidae, which also includes weasels, otters and Minks, the worry is that just as Denmark discovered animal to human transmission, they, the ferrets, could pass on the virus to humans too.
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