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'Anti COVID-19' nasal spray developed

Friday November 20th 2020

A nasal spray has been developed that could protect against COVID-19, using materials that are already cleared for use in humans, British researchers have announced.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham, UK, said by using compounds already widely approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe and USA, the product could be taken to market quickly.

They say that regular application of the spray could significantly reduce disease transmission and the researchers say that the spray could be useful in areas where it is more difficult to avoid crowds, such as in aeroplanes or classrooms.

The spray comprises two polysaccharide polymers: carrageenan, which is a common thickening agent in food, and gellan, which can be sprayed as fine droplets into the nasal cavity, covers the surface evenly and stays at the delivery site.

Writing in a pre-print, the team from the University’s Healthcare Technologies Institute describe undertaking cell culture experiments to test the ability of the solution to inhibit infection, finding that cell-virus cultures held back the infection up to 48 hours after being treated with the solution and when diluted many times.

Dr Richard Moakes, lead study author, said: “This spray is made from readily available products that are already being used in food products and medicines and we purposely built these conditions into our design process. It means that, with the right partners, we could start mass production within weeks.”

The spray catches and coats the virus inside the nose, from where it can be eliminated via the usual routes – either nose-blowing or swallowing – and because the virus is encapsulated in the spray’s viscous coating, it is prevented from being taken up by the body.

This means it will reduce the viral load in the body. Even if virus particles are passed on to another person via a sneeze or cough, that person is less likely to be infected by active virus particles.

Co-author Professor Liam Grover added: “Although our noses filter thousands of litres of air each day, there is not much protection from infection, and most airborne viruses are transmitted via the nasal passage. The spray we have formulated delivers that protection but can also prevent the virus being passed from person to person.”

The researchers said that while a nasal spray will not replace existing measures such as mask wearing and handwashing, it provides an additional layer of protection to prevent and slow virus transmission.

Moakes RJA, Davies SP, Stamataki Z et al. Complete Inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 Via Site-Specific Formulation of Sprays. BioRxiv. November 2020.

[abstract]

Tags: Flu & Viruses | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News

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