Nasal spray? Pray say!
Are nasal sprays an option for COVID-19 therapeutics?
As many would say, the new nasal sp(ray) by the Vancouver-based biotech company SaNOtize could indeed turn out to be another ray of sunshine in the COVID-19 chaos. The anti-COVID nasal spray is said to have yielded promising results in the clinical trials performed in UK and Canada. While the company is preparing to submit results to the worldwide regulators for emergency approval, let’s see how this spray actually works.
The major component of the spray is Nitric Oxide (NO), which is a Nano molecule naturally produced by the body, which is known to have antimicrobial properties. This spray works by killing the virus in the upper respiratory tract, thereby preventing the spread of the virus into the lungs which then leads to the need for hospitalization and incubation. NO also blocks the ACE2 receptor which is essential for the virus to infect our cells.
This straightforward and portable spray has the potential to become very efficient in preventing the spread of the virus. The molecule of NO used in this spray is said to be identical to the one used in sprays used to treat pulmonary hypertension in newborn babies, hence the pharmacological and toxicity data of the drug was safely in use in humans for a long time now.
Another nasal spray on the productions is the one designed by experts in the University of Birmingham, this spray is developed using products that were already approved for human use. The spray comprises two polymers, one is an antiviral agent called carrageenan (extracted from red edible seaweeds) which is used as a thickening agent in the food industry, and the other component is called gellan, which is known for its ability to stick to the cells in the nasal cavity. This property is beneficial because it helps the spray to stay in the designated site instead of sliding downwards.
When the spray is applied, initially it catches/ coats the virus which enters the nose, from which it could be eliminated via usual routes like blowing or swallowing. Secondly, the spray’s viscous layer which encapsulates the virus prevents it from being absorbed by the body. This reduces the viral load in the body, and even if the virus is transmitted to other people through cough or sneeze, it would be the encapsulated virus.
These sprays when used in crowded areas which cannot be avoided like classrooms, public transports could significantly reduce the transmission of the virus. Although it is important to remember that these sprays should only be used as an additional or rather second line of protection while wearing masks and regular sanitization would continue to be the first line of protection against the transmission of the virus.
Intranasal vaccine delivery.
The COVID-19 vaccines are about to be taken to the next level by the intranasal vaccines.
“It may sound cliché, but the reality of this pandemic is that none of us is safe until all of us are safe — globally — and that will require billions of vaccines that can be easily delivered and administered.” said Charlie Petty, Principal at Adjuvant Capital and Codagenix board member, providing rationale behind the development of new vaccines despite the success of the existing ones.
The COVI-VAC by Codagenix and Serum institute India (SII) began its Phase-1 trial in early January ’21, this single-dose vaccine has a simple needle-free delivery, spraying live attenuated virus (a weakened form of the virus) up the nasal cavity. It is also easy to store and administer as it does not require ultra-low temperatures or skilled people for delivery. The vaccine administers live attenuated virus, thereby producing a broader immune response as compared to other vaccines that only involve a part of the virus, this could also potentially provide an edge as new variants of the SARS-CoV2 emerge.
The potential of COVI-VAC to meet the global demand as a single-dose, needle-free vaccine that needs only a standard freezer or fridge cannot be overstated.” Dr.Coleman, CEO of Codagenix
Codagenix and SII are expected to begin the next levels of clinical testing by mid-2021. Various other companies like AstraZeneca and Sputnik V have also initiated their research on intranasal vaccines.
“Recent weeks have seen researchers reach incredible milestones, but given the scale and global breadth of the pandemic, we believe that multiple vaccines will be needed to ensure equitable access.” Dr.Coleman, CEO of Codagenix