Nasal spray could treat COVID-19, boost efficacy – Report

The spray prevents infection by capturing the virus in the nose and coating, which renders the virus inactive.
The spray prevents infection by capturing the virus in the nose and coating, which renders the virus inactive.

UK: As the second wave of COVID-19 recedes, countries are rushing to vaccinate their people to protect vulnerable groups with some experts anticipating a third wave of the pandemic.

Shortage of vaccine supply led to growing demands for ramping up production for billions of doses. Now, scientists are exploring ways to create new alternatives to the COVID-19 vaccine. An antibody nasal spray is one of the options scientists are exploring.

They have created a hybrid antibody that has been found to reduce the amount of SARS-CoV-2 in the lungs of infected mice.

A study published in journal Nature stated that nasal spray of a designer antibody offers strong protection against variants of coronavirus in mice. Led by Zhiqiang Ku, an antibody engineer at the University of Texas Health Science Center, the team of researchers are working to engineer an antibody that can be delivered directly into the nose.

In a bid to develop the antibody, the team scanned a library of antibodies and found the one that were able to recognise a component of SARS-CoV-2 that the virus uses to latch on to and enter cells. It included immunoglobulin M (IgM) that is tailored to the invading pathogen that is, SARS-CoV-2.

According to the report in Nature, the team stitched fragments of IgG targeting SARS-CoV-2 to a different type of molecule, IgM antibodies, which act as speedy first-responders to a broad range of infection. The engineered antibody had a higher rate of neutralising effect against over 20 Covid-19 variants.

The developed spray was squirted into the mice six hours before the infection and again six hours after it. The engineered antibody managed to reduce the amount of virus in the lungs of the mice two days after it first developed the infection.

“Our results demonstrate that antibody administration of an engineered IgM can improve efficacy, reduce resistance, and simplify the treatment of Covid-19,” researchers concluded in the paper.

Scientists are now working to push for more clinical trials to be conducted by IGM Biosciences, a biotechnology company in California.

While several studies are underway on antibody treatment, it has not been as popular among doctors to develop immunity against the deadly coronavirus. Other research papers in the past have also indicated that specific antibody treatments can prevent deaths and hospitalisations among people with mild or moderate COVID-19.


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