Nasal spray could prevent Covid-19, new research shows
Scientists are working on a nasal spray that could prevent Covid-19. Researchers from the University of California have created a molecule they believe to be one of the most most powerful anti-coronavirus compounds tested so far.
Their research has found that the molecules can trigger an immune response that releases a substance called INNA-051. This in turn activates a number of processes including the release of cytokines, a type of protein capable of stopping the virus from replicating and attaching itself to healthy cells.
The researchers developed this into an aerosol formula, and published their findings online. Though not yet peer reviewed, they believed the formula could be used as a nasal spray or inhaler that people could self-administer.
More recently a group of scientists from Imperial College London and Australian biotech company Ena Respiratory tested the formula in ferrets that had been exposed to Covid-19. Ferrets have become the standard animal for Covid-19 testing as they are more susceptible to the virus than other animals.
The INNA-051 formula was administered into the noses of a group of ferrets, while another group was given a placebo. Five days later the ferrets given the formula had 96% less of a viral load than those that had been given the placebo.
The next step is to find out if it is safe to administer to humans. If successful, it is hoped the spray could be used on a daily basis as protection against the virus until a vaccine becomes available.
“We’ve been amazed with just how effective our treatment has been,” says Ena Respiratory Managing Director, Dr Christophe Demaison. “By boosting the natural immune response of the ferrets with our treatment, we’ve seen a rapid eradication of the virus.”
“If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. This is particularly relevant to vulnerable members of the community. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission.”
Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!