According to a small study published Thursday by an international team of scientists, a nasal spray that blocks the absorption of coronavirus is completely protected for mink for which it has been tested. The study is limited to animals and has not been peer reviewed, and has been evaluated by several medical experts at the request of The New York Times.
If the spray, which scientists describe as non-toxic and stable, is proven to work in humans, it could provide a new way to fight the pandemic, with the nasal spray. Everyday is like a vaccine.
“Having something new that works against coronavirus is very interesting,”; said Dr Arturo Casadevall, president of immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who was not involved in the study. “I can imagine this as part of an arsenal.”
The work has been conducted for months by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, Cornell University and Campania University in Italy. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and Columbia University Medical Center.
The spray, which directly attacks the virus, contains a lipopeptide, a particle of cholesterol linked to a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This particular lipopeptide exactly matches a segment of the amino acid in the virus’s spike protein that pathogens use to attach to human airways or lung cells.
Before the virus can inject its RNA into the cell, the spike must efficiently decode, exposing two amino acid chains, to fuse with the cell wall. When the tip pulls back to complete the process, the lipopeptide in the spray will insert itself, attach to one of the tip’s amino acid chains and prevent the virus from attaching.
Matteo Porotto, a microbiologist at Columbia University and one of the authors of the article, said: “It’s like you’re pulling on a zipper but putting another zipper inside, so two parties cannot meet.
The work was described in an article posted to the bioRxiv preprinting server on Thursday morning, and was submitted to Science for peer evaluation.
Weasels are used by scientists studying influenza, SARS and other respiratory diseases because they can catch viruses through the nose as much as humans, though they also infect each other when exposed to feces. or by scratching and biting.
Dr. Anne Moscona, a Columbia pediatrician and microbiologist who co-authored the study, said the protective spray attaches to the cells in the nose and lungs and lasts about 24 hours.
“If it works well in humans,” she said, “you can either sleep in bed with an infected person or stay with your infected baby and still be safe.”