As coronavirus disease (COVID-19), caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), continues to wreak havoc globally, scientists are racing to develop an effective drug or vaccine to fight the infection. . With more than 33.5 million people infected since the pandemic began in December 2019, finding treatment for infected people is key to stem its spread.
Now, biotech company in Australia, Ena Respiratory, has said that a nasal spray it is developing could help strengthen the human immune system to fight the flu and the common cold, significantly reducing the growth of the coronavirus in a recent study on animals.
The potential nasal spray may not only help treat COVID-1
The nasal spray
The new product, called INNA-051, was developed by Ena Respiratory and laboratory experiments showed that it reduced viral replication by up to 96% in the animal study. Led by UK Deputy Director of Public Health (PHE), Professor Miles Carroll, the new study described the potential treatment and was published on the open source preprint server bioRxiv*.
Used as a nasal spray, it aims to strengthen the body’s natural immune system to fight common colds and flu. It works by activating the innate immune system, which is the body’s first line of defense against infection with a pathogen. When the drug boosted the immune system, it also prevented SARS-CoV-2 infection and replication in the laboratory.
Clinical observations. (a) Schematic of the experimental design. Ferrets received INNA-051 and PBS treatments 4 days and 1 day before challenge with 5.0 x 106 pfu / ml SARS-CoV-2. Nasal lavage and throat swabs were collected on days 1, 3, 5, 7, 10, and 12 after challenge (b.p.) for all treatment groups and the control group. Scheduled culls were performed for 6/24 ferrets on day 3 b.c. and 18/24 ferrets on days 12-14 p.c. (b) Temperatures were measured twice daily (approximately 8 hours apart), using implanted temperature / ID chips. Mean temperatures +/- standard error of mean (SEM) are displayed. The drop in temperature after the SARS-CoV-2 challenge (*) was attributed to sedation. (b) Weight was recorded daily and the percentage change from ferret weight before treatment was plotted. The average percentage weight variation +/- SEM is displayed.
Respiratory diseases, including those that cause the flu, common cold and coronavirus infection, are the major ongoing global health threats. These viruses have caused epidemics of pandemics, endangering the lives of those at greatest risk, such as children, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised.
SARS-CoV-2 infection is actively spreading around the world and rapidly spreads from one person to another through close contact and respiratory droplets. One of the biggest threats of the current pandemic is that many people infected with the virus are asymptomatic, which means they don’t know they are carriers of the virus. Consequently, they are called silent speakers.
The research team of the National Infection Service, Public Health England (PHE) wanted to develop the nasal spray to prevent replication of the virus in the nasal area, the most common entry point of the virus.
To test the nasal spray, the team obtained nasal wash and throat swab samples four days prior to the viral challenge. After analyzing viral RNA in nasal wash samples, the team confirmed infection in all treatment groups, with lower viral RNA levels seen in the INNA-051 treatment.
The team found that intra-nasal prophylactic administration of INNA-051 in the SARS-CoV-2 ferret infection model has reduced levels of viral RNA in the nose and threatens.
“The results of our study support the clinical development of a TLR2 / 6 prophylactic innate immune activation therapy in URT to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and provide protection against COVID-19,” the team wrote in document.
Furthermore, the research team added that the prophylactic approach is important for people at high risk of community transmission or development of severe COVID-19 disease, such as the elderly, people with comorbidities, and those who are immunocompromised.
“We were amazed at how effective our treatment was. By increasing the natural immune response of ferrets with our treatment, we have seen rapid eradication of the virus,” said Christophe Demaison, CEO of Ena Respiratory.
“If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of the treatment are twofold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely clear it quickly, with treatment ensuring the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. This is particularly relevant for vulnerable members of the community. Furthermore, the rapidity of this response means that infected individuals are unlikely to transmit it, which means a rapid stop of community transmission, ”he added.
bioRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and therefore should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behaviors, or treated as consolidated information.