Scientists have been known to use ferrets to study flu, SARS, and other respiratory diseases because they can catch viruses through the nose as humans do. Picture from New York Times.
A multi-institutional research team has developed an inexpensive nasal spray that is said to effectively block absorption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to the New York Times. The study, which was conducted on ferrets, has shown positive results in preventing infection of the virus.
Scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands and Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. have been researching for months for a nontoxic, stable procedure as a deterrent of infection of Covid-19. The spray contains lipopeptide, or a cholesterol particle which is linked to a chain of amino acids. The lipopeptide has identical properties as the protein of the spike of Covid-19 virus. The lipopeptide attaches itself to the spike of the virus, preventing the virus to attach itself to the lung cells.
In this study, ferrets have been used as primary subjects. Scientists are known to use ferrets to study flu, SARS, and other respiratory diseases because they can catch viruses through the nose as humans do. They also spread the infection with each other by contact with feces or scratching and biting. In this study, the researchers used the spray on six ferrets, placed them in cages of three, and divided them into pairs. There were also two additional ferrets per cage that were given the placebo effect-spray, along with a ferret that was infected with the SARS-CoV-2. After placing the five ferrets in each cage for 24 hours, the ferrets that were given the placebo-spray had gotten infected. However, the ferrets that were given the nasal spray had completely blocked the infection of the virus.
Despite the fact that other antibodies used for Covid-19 have shown to prevent infection as well as treat it, they are too costly to make, require refrigeration, and must be injected. According to Biospace,” The lipoprotein used in this nasal spray is inexpensive to produce. The lipoprotein can be made as a freeze-dried white powder that does not require refrigeration. Doctors or pharmacists can mix the powder with either sugar or water to make the nasal spray.”
Although the study has shown limited results on animal testing, future testing on humans is yet to be pending. Dr. Anne Moscona, a pediatrician and microbiologist at Columbia and co-author of the study, hopes her institution will seek funding from the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed or large pharmaceutical companies.