U.S SCIENTISTS DEVELOPING NASAL SPRAY TO PREVENT COVID-19
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania and the biotech firm Regeneron are investigating whether technology developed for gene therapy can be used to make a nasal spray that will prevent infection with the new coronavirus.
The idea is to use a weakened virus as a delivery truck to carry genetic instructions to cells within the nose and the throat, which will in turn create powerful antibodies to stop SARS-CoV-2 from invading our bodies.
According to James Wilson, a professor of medicine at Penn who is leading the project, the advantage of the approach is that you don’t need a competent immune system for this to be effective.
The technology is currently being tested in animals and Wilson believes that, if successful, it could provide people with around six months of protection from a single dose, sprayed up the nose, and therefore complement vaccines that could soon be approved.
Wilson is a pioneer of gene therapy — delivering genetic code into a patient’s cells to correct for defects and treat disease.
His research team discovered that the Adeno-Associated Virus (AAV) group of viruses, which infect both humans and other primates but aren’t known to cause disease, can be engineered to ferry healthy DNA into cells.
This approach led in 2019 to the approval of Zolgensma, the first drug for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy, and today AAVs are being investigated for dozens of more possible applications.