Scientists across the world are working extensively to develop novel and creative measures to combat the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and protect people from the infection. As the virus is highly contagious, various protective measures have been devised such as nano-based masks, disinfectants, and needless to say the fast-track development of a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine.
Recently, an antibody-based nasal spray has been developed by the research team at SPARK at Stanford University. The antibodies are produced from egg yolks of chickens that are immunized with spike, a surface protein of SARS-CoV-2. These antibodies are designed to be introduced to humans, intranasally. The research team has explained that after administration of the nasal spray, antibodies present in the drops would coat the surfaces inside the nose and throat. This coating would act as a barrier against SARS-CoV-2. The development procedure of the nasal spray is unusually low-tech.
In Australia, SPARK GLOBAL and Linear Clinical Research have announced the phase 1 clinical trial. The development, manufacturing, and distribution of the nasal drops are being coordinated by SPARK GLOBAL while the clinical trial is being conducted by Linear Clinical Research at its Perth facility. The outcome of the trial will help the research team to assess whether the nasal spray could provide temporary protection against Covid-19. The results of the trial would also help determine the duration of its activeness in the nose.
The research team at Stanford University expressed their optimism that the trial would show positive results. Daria Mochly-Rosen, President and Founder of SPARK GLOBAL, and a Professor at Stanford University’s School of Medicine expressed her confidence in their study. She stated that the positive outcome of the trial would be instrumental in preventing the spread of the infection and helping people to go back to their normal lives even before the launch of an effective vaccine. For example, people can use the nasal spray immediately before, availing of public transport, working in a crowded place, participating in family get-togethers, etc.
Michael Diamond, Herbert S. Gasser Professor, Departments of Medicine, Molecular Microbiology, Pathology & Immunology at Washington University in St. Louis, who is also involved in developing a nasal-administered vaccine for COVID-19 stated that even though the principle of the study shows much promise, there are some unanswered questions. He said that the longevity of the effectiveness of the chicken antibodies, and most importantly, whether humans would develop an immune response against them are major questions to be answered. The next step of their research will be to study the effectiveness of the nasal spray in hamsters, which will be forcefully infected with the coronavirus.
SPARK hopes to start a clinical trial to test the efficacy in the United States provided they obtain positive results in the Australian trial. If the results show no obvious side effects or significant adverse response against the chicken antibody, the team would proceed to launch the full-fledged efficacy trial. Mochly-Rosen, has also started to discuss their study with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.