Sophisticated study: Nasal spray protects against all variants of COVID-19

An experimental nasal spray developed in Finland can protect people from COVID-19 infection for up to 8 hours. Researchers from the University of Helsinki have developed a new treatment that has been successful in preventing infection with the virus during laboratory studies on animals. The mice that were used in the study were less likely to develop upper respiratory distress after contact with the virus when spraying the mist.

“This technology is cheap and highly manufacturable, and the inhibitor works well against all variants,” said one of the study’s authors, Kalle Saksela, according to the New York Post. The aerosol recognizes and binds to the thorny protein of the coronavirus, temporarily suppressing its function. It was originally developed for people with weakened immune systems who have a high risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19. The nasal spray contains an antibody-like protein and researchers say that a small dose of cells stopped them from infecting even the omicron type of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.

The spray uses an innovative technology called TriSb92, a molecule developed by researchers that protects against coronavirus infection for at least 8 hours, even in high-risk situations. Unlike vaccines, TriSb92 starts working immediately after it is administered. Anna Makela, the study’s first author, explained that it targets a specific site on the coronavirus spike protein that is common to all variants.

“In other words, we can confidently assume that future variants of SARS-CoV-2 and possibly even entirely new coronaviruses that may threaten to cause epidemics are susceptible,” she said. The product potentially provides a “biological mask” to protect against infection with the Coronavirus when sprayed on mucous membranes.

The University of Helsinki study has not been peer-reviewed, and the depressant nasal spray should be tested in humans, experts say, so more research is needed before it becomes an approved treatment for COVID-19.

Saxela said the spray was not developed to replace vaccines or other treatments for COVID-19, according to the paper.

“Its preventive use is intended to protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection,” she said. “However, it is not a vaccine, nor is it intended to be a replacement for vaccines, but rather to complement vaccination to provide additional protection.”

However, given the current situation where the omicron variant appears to be able to evade vaccine protection, the nasal spray may be a critical therapeutic addition for those who are immunocompromised or at greater risk of severe disease.

“Individuals whose immune system does not respond strongly enough to vaccines especially come to mind,” Saxella said. “Having said that, we know that novel variants, particularly Omicron, are able to circumvent even alarmingly effective vaccine responses. Prior to any kind of social interaction, TriSb92 could be beneficial for people whose vaccine protection is not sufficient for one reason or another. Depending on Epidemiological situation, it can also benefit individuals who have been fully vaccinated prior to any situation with high-risk exposure.

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