Drugs Pharma

Finnish researchers say new COVID-19 nasal spray hold future promise

A nasal spray developed by Finnish researchers can prevent COVID-19 disease caused by all known variants and stop the transmission of the virus, according to a statement.

HQ Team

March 27, 2023: A nasal spray developed by Finnish researchers can prevent COVID-19 disease caused by all known variants and stop the transmission of the virus, according to a statement.

TriSb92, a molecule developed by researchers at the University of Helsinki, proved effective against coronavirus infection in laboratory animal studies.

The molecule identifies a region in the coronavirus spike protein common to all current variants of the virus and inhibits its functioning.

“When administered nasally, the TriSb92 molecule effectively prevents infection. Experiments carried out in cell cultures indicate that it also encompasses the latest variants, including XBB, BF7 and BQ.1.1,” said Anna R. Make from Prof Kalle Saksela’s research group.

Experiments in animals have demonstrated that, unlike face masks, the molecule can, when sprayed into the nose, prevents infection even after a few hours of exposure, according to the statement.

18-month storage

The molecule remains fully functional at room temperature for at least 18 months, making it well-suited for use as a nasal spray. The results have been published in Nature Communications journal. 

India’s Bharat Biotech International was the first to develop an intra-nasal vaccine against the COVID-19 virus. The drug regulator, Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, cleared the vaccine in December for restricted use in emergencies in the age group of 18 and above.

There are more than seven intra-nasal vaccines on the global market to treat COVID-19, including NONS from SaNOtize, UK, Affix spray from Nasal Pharma, Israel, Alvesco inhaler from Covis Pharma, Luxembourg, and Astrodome from Aspen Pharmaceuticals, South Africa.

According to Helsinki researchers, while the worst stage of the coronavirus pandemic is, at least for the time being, behind us, nasally administered protection can be a crucial help in preventing the spread of the virus in the future.

‘Current vaccines ineffective’

“The latest variants effectively avoid the immune protection provided by both vaccines and the COVID-19 disease, and current vaccines are not effective in preventing transmission,” Makela said.

The nasal spray can protect those people from serious diseases who do not gain sufficient immunity from vaccines, such as immunocompromised individuals and the elderly, she said.

According to the researchers, the molecule could also work against future animal-borne close relatives of SARS-CoV-2, which are expected to cause entirely new coronavirus pandemics.

“Since the region in the coronavirus spike protein affected by the TriSb92 molecule has remained almost unchanged in all viral variants so far emerged, it can be assumed to be effective also against future SARS-CoV-2 variants,” Makela said.

Other viral diseases

“The easily and inexpensively produced TriSb92 could be a very important first line of defence in curbing such a new pandemic, pending the development, production and distribution of vaccines,” she adds.

The technology can also prevent many other viral diseases, particularly influenza and other respiratory viruses.

“The whole approach stems from a technical solution based on a binder protein platform developed in Finland, which was not initially intended for creating an antiviral drug.

“It provides an opportunity for many other new initiatives based on the accurate identification of diseased cells or pathogens in patients,” Mäkelä said.

The molecule will be tested in clinical trials before being available commercially.

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