As the vaccine drive is picking up in the United Kingdom amid the scare of new strain of Covid-19, the University of Birmingham has come out with a nasal spray which it says "protects against coronavirus and prevents transmission".
Elsewhere, the University of Louisville in the US received $8.5 million in funding last month from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a nasal spray to prevent COVID-19 using Q-Griffithsin, a drug compound developed and co-owned by UofL but it may take another year. Pending clinical trials, Birmingham researchers say the nasal spray works by catching Covid-19 inside the nose, where it can theoretically leave the body through blowing the nose or swallowing.
Professor Liam Grover, one of the leading authors of the study, told media, "Although our noses filter thousands of litres of air each day, there is not much protection from infection, and most airborne viruses are transmitted via the nasal passage. The spray we have formulated delivers that protection but can also prevent the virus being passed from person to person."
This nasal spray reportedly protects for two days and useful in crowded areas such as flights, classrooms or crowded office rooms, experts said.
Co-author Dr Richard Moakes said the spray is made from readily available products that are already being used in food products and medicines, and the team has purposely built these conditions into the design process. "With the right partners, we could start mass production within weeks. Products like these don't replace existing measures such as mask wearing and handwashing," he noted. However, it can add a second layer of protection to prevent and slow virus transmission.
Kenneth E. Palmer, director of the UofL Center for Predictive Medicine for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases said, "The idea is to deliver the antiviral agent to the location in the body where the virus is known to replicate first, the upper respiratory tract."
The UofL team is contemplating to make use of Q-Griffithsin (Q-GRFT), an analog of the biologic griffithsin, is a potent anti-viral protein that acts against multiple coronaviruses, including MERS, SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, as well as pandemic threat viruses such as Nipah virus. An application using Q-GRFT to prevent HIV infection already is in Phase I clinical trial.
"The relatively short timeframe for this project is possible due to the fact that we have a supply of Q-GRFT on hand and that it already has undergone testing related to the HIV preventative," said Joshua Fuqua of the UofL Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology who will manage the program.
Turkish team's new spray
Meanwhile, researchers team that developed the Genoxyn nasal spray developed at the laboratories of Uludağ University in Turkey's northwestern Bursa province claimed that their repurposed new nasal spray can kill the coronavirus in just one minute.
The solution named Genoxyn, which completely kills the virus, was developed by associate professor Dr. Şehime Gülsün Temel and others who repurposed a nasal spray for covid-19. Sabancı said he had been carrying out his studies on protection from viral diseases before the coronavirus pandemic started.
"We have demonstrated that it has a lethal effect against bacteria, fungi and especially SARS-CoV-2," said Dr. Cüneyt Özakın, a faculty member of Uludağ University's Medical Microbiology Department.