Researchers Develop Nasal Spray That Could Slow The Spread Of COVID-19

By Bill Galluccio

August 13, 2020

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, believe they have developed a game-changing new treatment in the fight against COVID-19. The team analyzed more than two billion nanobodies and found 21 that had the potential to stop the coronavirus from spreading.

Nanobodies were discovered in the blood of llamas, camel, and alpacas and are much smaller and less complex than human antibodies. They are also more stable and easier to mass-produce than human antibodies. The researchers were able to alter the nanobodies to target the coronavirus cells and prevent them from latching on to lung cells and multiplying.

The new nanobodies, named "AeroNabs," were synthesized into an aerosol form, which can be delivered in a nebulizer.

Based on their initial tests, they found the AeroNabs were more effective at stopping the coronavirus than personal protective equipment. 

"They put two resulting modified nanobodies together, and it was so effective that it exceeded our ability to measure its potency," AeroNabs co-inventor Peter Walter said.

The researchers are hopeful the new treatment will prove effective when they begin human trials.

"We're not alone in thinking that AeroNabs are a remarkable technology," Dr. Aashish Manglik, an assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, said. "Our team is in ongoing discussions with potential commercial partners who are interested in manufacturing and distributing AeroNabs, and we hope to commence human trials soon. If AeroNabs prove as effective as we anticipate, they may help reshape the course of the pandemic worldwide."

If the nanobodies prove to be effective at stopping the coronavirus from spreading, they could provide an inexpensive option to protect people until a vaccine is approved. They also believe the nanobodies could be used in air-conditioning filters, which would help stop the coronavirus from recirculating in indoor spaces like schools, restaurants, and shopping malls.

They did not say when the new treatment will be available.

Photo: Getty Images

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