Egg-derived nasal drops may offer short COVID-19 protection

Egg cultivated antibodies may offer temporary COVID-19 protection when administered nasally.

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(Melis | Bigstock)
(Melis | Bigstock)

I was always told to be suspicious of people who put things up their nose - best avoided even if they might seem like a lot of fun. Now, however, exactly the opposite might be true thanks to Australian trials of a novel nasal spray that, it is hoped, will offer temporary protection against the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The last year has seen some strange candidates for COVID-19 prevention. Most of the odder ones have fallen by the wayside. The latest candidate, however, derived from something that we are more used to putting in mouths rather than up our noses, has entered clinical trials, and could offer relief until a vaccine is fully available.

Researchers in Australia and the U.S. are examining antibodies, harvested from egg yolks, that can be self-administered via nasal drops. The drops, it is hoped, will confer immediate immunity that lasts for approximately four hours.

Phase 1 trials have already started, and the study should be completed in December. If successful, the drops could be commercially available early next year. The approach came out of the University of Sydney and has been developed by an international team led by translational research partnership SPARK at the U.S.’s University of Stanford.

While the ultimate prize in the battle against SARS-COV 19 might be a vaccine, anything that can offer easily accessible protection is to be much welcomed, even it if it does require regular nasal administration.

Nothing to be sniffed at

According to Daria Mochly-Rosen, PhD, president SPARK GLOBAL, and chemical systems biology professor at the Stanford University’s School of Medicine, in the absence of vaccines or effective treatments for COVID-19, an affordable temporary immunity agent that can be self-administered would enable people to resume their normal daily lives and work activities while we wait for vaccines.

The reaction to the latest vaccine developments this week may have been euphoric but, little by little, the complications of production, distribution and administration have dawned. A temporary solution to the pandemic may help to allow a return to normal while we wait.

The nasal spray is not a not a traditional vaccine, but once introduced into the nose it would capture and neutralize the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 before it enters the body, its developers believe.

To produce these antibodies, laying hens are first immunized with a key SARS-COV-2 protein. Antibodies produced by the hens are passed to their eggs and then extracted from the yolks to be formulated into nasal drops.

Once administered, the antibodies coat the surface inside the nose and throat and as act as a barrier against SARS COV-2.

View our continuing coverage of the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.


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