A groundbreaking treatment in the form of a nasal spray, which could protect people from all COVID variants will advance to human trials after successful lab tests.
The new spray contains “potent” proteins which target the virus’s weak spots and prevent it from infecting the body, say researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Washington.
Some treatments, including vaccines, have become less effective at combating COVID as the virus has continued to evolve.
Several antibody treatments were halted last month in the U.S. after they failed to protect people against the BA.2 omicron sub-variant—and they require complex refrigerated supply chains.
Now, a simpler solution to combat the virus is being advanced to human clinical trials after promising results of their mice tests, published April 12, 2022, in the journal Science Translational Medicine. Nasal sprays are also being tested in several research institutes in England and Israel as effective defenses for COVID-19.
To begin, the American scientists first used supercomputers to design proteins that could stick to vulnerable sites on the surface of the novel coronavirus, targeting the spike protein. This work was originally reported in 2020 in the journal Science.
In the new work, the team reengineered the proteins — called minibinders — to make them even more potent. Rather than targeting just one site of the virus’ infectious machinery, the minibinders simultaneously bind to three sites (see orange sites in the photo), making the drug less likely to detach.
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