UPenn Scientists, Regeneron Developing Nasal Spray to Prevent COVID-19 Infections
A nasal spray is being eyed for a possible development to prevent COVID-19 infections.
This could be done through the partnership of University of Pennsylvania scientists and Regeneron.
The development will be using a weakened virus as a delivery vessel to carry genetic instructions to cells within the nose and the throat, as reported by AFP News.
This will turn into a create powerful antibodies to stop SARS-CoV-2 from entering the body.
A professor of medicine at UPenn, James Wilson, says that the advantage of their approach is that one does not need a competent immune system for this to be effective.
Wilson is also leading the project for the nasal spray development.
The development is currently being tested in animals.
Wilson believes that the nasal spray could be used for six months protection if proven effective.
This could be used through a single dose and by spraying up the nose.
Complement vaccines could be approved, Wilson added.
The leader of the study is a pioneer of gene therapy, which is done by delivering genetic code into a patient's cells to correct for defects and treat diseases.
Wilson's research team discovered that the Adeno-Associated Virus group of viruses can be engineered to deliver healthy DNA into cells.
AAV infect both humans and other primates.
This discovery led in 2019 to the approval of Zolgensma, which is the first drug for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy.
Today, AAVs are being investigated for more possible applications that can be used.
UPenn and Regeneron Partnership
Wilson was reached out by the U.S. government in February for a possible use of his lab for a technology against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regeneron then developed two promising lab-made antibodies against the coronavirus.
This works by binding a surface protein of the pathogen and stop it from invading one's cells.
Regeneron's antibodies are themselves in clinical testing, but they have received emergency approval for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19, who are at risk of getting a severe disease.
This was also notably used recently to treat U.S. President Donald Trump was diagnosed with the COVID-19.
Researchers are hoping that the nasal spray could be sprayed through the nostrils, enter the nasal epithelial cells, and hijack their protein-making process to that they make Regeneron's antibodies.
Only immune cells create antibodies, normally.
Ideally, the nasal spray could stop the COVID-19 infection in its tracks as the COVID-19 enters the lungs through the nasal passage.
AAVs triggers a mild immune response, which could make the side effects less severe than the potential vaccines.
Vaccines, on the other hand, work by training the immune system to recognize a key protein of the virus.
Pfizer and Moderna earlier announced positive results from its data for its potential COVID-19 vaccines.
The government is eyeing to distribute these vaccines to most vulnerable before the year ends.
UPenn and Regeneron targets to complete their animal testing by January.
After the animal trials, they would apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to start its human trials.
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