Over the last couple of years, the life sciences and medical industries have been focused on creating treatments or developing vaccines, for Covid-19. The latest study from the US has now shown a nasal spray could be the most effective therapy against the illness to date.
Researchers at Northwestern University, University of Washington, and Washington University at St Louis have been working hard on a new protein-based antiviral nasal spray to treat or even prevent Covid-19 infections, with their findings published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.
It works by disrupting the virus’ ability to enter cells, with experiments on mice determining that the treatment reduced symptoms of the illness or stopped the animals from being infected entirely. The top protein neutralised the coronavirus, as well as all tested SARS-CoV-2 variants. This is one of the only antibody treatments that has been able to achieve this.
Michael Jewett from Northwestern University led the study, with David Baker and David Veesler from the University of Washington School of Medicine and Michael S Diamond at WashU supporting him.
Jewitt stated that common antibody therapies typically only block one of the three binding domains of the spike protein; however, this treatment blocks all three.
“The interaction between the spike protein and our antiviral is among the tightest interactions known in biology. When we put the spike protein and our antiviral therapeutic in a test tube together for a week, they stayed connected and never fell apart,” he explained.
So far, the success of some treatments against Covid-19 has been affected due to different variants emerging over time. However, the minibinders in the nasal spray were able to work against the latest Omicron variant, and scientists are confident it will continue to be effective against future varieties as it prevents the variants from binding to the ACE2 receptor.
“To enter the body, the spike protein and ACE2 receptor engage in a handshake. Our antiviral blocks this handshake and, as a bonus, has a resistant to viral escape,” stated Jewitt.
Other advantages of the newly developed nasal spray are that it is inexpensive to develop; it is stable in high heat and does not require extreme refrigeration; and it could potentially be self-administered, which means medical professionals are not required to give the treatment.
The therapy is so promising that it is being advanced towards Phase I human clinical trials to treat or prevent Covid-19 in the future.
This comes after the government asked for volunteers to come forward for a new Covid-19 drug trial. Merck, Sharp, and Dohme (MSD) have developed a pill called Molnupiravir, which was given a license by UK regulators in November and officially launched the following month, BBC News reported.
Anyone vulnerable to Covid-19 has been urged to participate in the trial, including people with underlying health conditions and those over the age of 50, as this will help determine how the NHS can best use the drug.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said antiviral drug studies “help us to learn more about medicines which could save thousands of lives”.
As more treatments and vaccinations are developed in the fight against Covid-19, the demand for people looking for life science vacancies is likely to remain high for some time.