Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) are working with the biotechnology company Regeneron to develop a nasal spray that protects against Covid-19. A method that could serve as an adjunct to future vaccines.
Fewer side effects and long lasting protection
Based on the principle of gene therapy through the introduction of genetic material into cells through the nose and throat, the latter could, in response, produce the antibodies required to prevent infections with the new coronavirus.
According to Professor James Wilson, in charge of the project at the University of Pennsylvania:
The advantage of this approach is that you don’t need a competent immune system to be effective.
It could also protect against the new coronavirus for around six months for a single dose, he adds. An approach that would complement future vaccines and cause fewer side effects than the latter.
Ultimately, the researchers hope that the spray can induce the affected nasal cells to produce the Regeneron antibodies and thus block any SARS-CoV-2 infection on its way to the lungs.
Human tests in 2021?
The US government contacted James Wilson, a pioneer in gene therapy, last February to use this technology against Covid-19. However, his team was only able to move forward after the Regeneron company developed an innovative treatment based on a cocktail made from synthetic antibodies.
The approval of this treatment has been urgently validated by the US Medicines Agency (FDA) and specifically used to treat US President Donald Trump.
While the spray is currently being tested on animals, the University of Pennsylvania and Regeneron plan to complete those tests by January 2021 and then seek FDA approval for further testing, this time on humans.