Ferrets Help Scientists Produce Nasal Spray That Prevents COVID-19 Infection.


“C
OVID coronavirus replication was completely blocked. …these antivirals (developed from ferret tests) … is easily administered and … protection would be immediate and last for at least 24 hours.”

— Anne Moscona, M. D. and Matteo Porotto, Ph.D., Professors in the Dept. of Pediatrics and Directors, Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, N. Y.

“Having something new that works against the coronavirus is exciting.”

— Dr. Arturo Casadevall, Chmn. of Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD

 

November 8, 2020   New York City, N. Y. –  On November 6, 2020, Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center announced in a press release above that “A nasal antiviral spray, created by researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, blocked transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in ferrets.” Ferrets are used by scientists, who study respiratory diseases such as influenza, SARS and now SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19. The reason is that ferrets can breathe in viruses through their noses and become infected just as humans do.

"Caretaker

 

Columbia Univ. Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction

Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Moscona Lab: L-R: Anne Moscona, M. D. and Matteo Porotto, Ph.D., Professors in Columbia University’s Department of Pediatrics; and Directors of the Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction, New York, N. Y.

Anne Moscona, M. D. and Matteo Porotto, Ph.D., Professors in Columbia University’s Department of Pediatrics and Directors of the Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction have produced a lipopeptide spray that attacks the lethal COVID-19 coronavirus directly by interfering with the coronavirus before it can attach to cells in the airway or lungs.

“Coronavirus replication was completely blocked,” the medical team reports. The spray consists of a cholesterol particle linked to a chain of amino acids that match the protein in those pointy spikes that stick out from the COVID-19 coronavirus. So the nose spray substitutes itself into those spike amino acid chains without being detected and blocks the coronavirus from getting into the human or ferret cells.

Ferrets have been proven to be a valuable model for studying many viral infections. This image by Marshall BioResources, which now maintains two barrier ferret-breeding facilities, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, to provide influenza-free ferrets globally.
Ferrets have been proven to be a valuable model for studying many viral infections. This image by Marshall BioResources, which now maintains two barrier ferret-breeding facilities, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, to provide influenza-free ferrets globally.

Ferrets are used by scientists who study respiratory diseases such as influenza, SARS and SARS-CoV-2 because through the ferret’s nose, just like through the human nose, viruses can be breathed in and cause infection. To test their lipopeptide spray, the scientists sprayed the noses of six ferrets. Then they were divided into three pairs placed in three different cages. Then into each cage came two ferrets given only a placebo, not the lipopeptide spray. And finally, added to those four ferrets was a fifth that had been infected with COVID-19 two or three days before.

 

“Coronavirus Replication Was Completely Blocked.”

Twenty-four hours later, inside the three test cages, none of the ferrets that received the nose spray had caught COVID-19. But all the ferrets that had only placebos were infected.

Dr. Moscona told The New York Times, “The protective nose spray attaches to airway/lung cells in the nose and lungs and lasts about 24 hours.”  She said their tests were against four different variants of the virus, including SARS, MERS and both the “Wuhan” and “Italian” strains of COVID-19. So the spray won’t protect for longer than 24 hours, but daily spraying that truly blocks the coronavirus would be a welcome relief.

Two encouraging test results:

— The test nose spray protected completely against all strains of the pandemic virus in cell cultures.

— The lipoprotein is inexpensive to produce as a freeze-dried white powder that does not need refrigeration. A doctor or pharmacist can mix the powder with sugar and water to easily make the nose spray. Dry powder would be much easier to transport to rural areas of poor countries that do not have refrigeration.

This is great news for getting the nose spray out into the whole world to stop the insidious COVID-19 from its rapid, contagious spread. In contrast, the monoclonal antibody treatment given to Donald Trump is expensive to make, requires refrigeration and must be injected with a needle.

The next step:  proving the lipoprotein spray can work safely and effectively in humans. Dr. Arturo Casadevall, Chmn. of Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told TNYT, “Having something new that works against the coronavirus is exciting. I could imagine this being part of the arsenal” against SARS-CoV-2.

Also see:

04-27-2020 – Medical Experts Say A Second Wave of COVID-19 Is Coming Fall 2020 — And Could Be Worse Mixed with Fall Flu Season. Mp3 Audio Interview with Prof. Jay Couey, Ph.D., Cellular Neurobiologist, Univ. of Pittsburgh.


More Information:

02-28-2020 – World Health Organization Today: Risk of COVID-19 Spread and Impact Is Now “Very High At A Global Level.”

10-30-2014 – Ebola, Simpler Than HIV Retrovirus, But Can Kill More Rapidly
05-31-2013 – MERS Cases and Death Toll Continue to Rise
10-09-2009 – Updated:  25% of Novel H1N1 Americans Sick Enough for Hospitalization End Up in Intensive Care
04-25-2003 – Coronavirus Expert Questions Animal Source for SARS

04-23-2003 – SARS Worldwide Update


Websites:

“Could A Nasal Spray Prevent Coronavirus Transmission?” November 6, 2020, Columbia University Irving Medical Center: https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/could-nasal-spray-prevent-coronavirus-transmission

“Inexpensive Nasal Spray Prevents COVID-19 Infection in Ferrets, Shows Promise for Human Trials,” Nov. 6, 2020, BioSpace: https://www.biospace.com/article/inexpensive-nasal-spray-prevents-covid-19-infection-in-ferrets-shows-promise-for-human-trials/

Center for Host-Pathogen Interaction, Columbia University, New York, N. Y.: https://www.pediatrics.columbia.edu/about-us/divisions/critical-care-and-hospital-medicine/center-host-pathogen-interaction


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