Have you ever thought about meeting friends, going to a concert or even riding the bus without any fear of contracting covid-19, even if someone coughs and sneezes next to you? From a morning-after spray against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, scientists at Stanford University, in the United States, are working on this almost magical solution against the disease.
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It is worth remembering that, in medicine, different diseases or conditions can be fought as the potential spray is planned. This is the case with Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) against HIV or the next pill to prevent pregnancy. The big difference is that these two strategies should only be used when necessary, while the technology to prevent the infection of the covid-19 virus could have more everyday use.
However, the North American team of scientists is still in the development phase of the spray, but in the last few weeks, they discovered that, in the laboratory, such a solution is feasible, as they explain in an article published in the scientific journal Cell.
Is it possible to have a spray against covid-19?
“Our upper airways are the gateway not only for infection in our lungs, but also for transmission. [de um vírus] for other people,” explains Peter Jackson, professor of microbiology at Stanford, in a statement. That way, the spray would “only” need to prevent the infection from settling in the nose and throat.
To understand the feasibility of the process, Jackson and his team created airway epithelial organoids, which mimic normal airways with characteristic mucus and hair cells, and infected them with the COVID-19 virus. The original strain was used.
According to the authors, at first, the coronaviruses connect and infect only the hair cells and can remain concentrated in this region for more than 24 hours. The full invasion only starts after 48 hours. In real life, the time would be similar, according to previous studies.
“It is clear that human ciliated nasal epithelial cells are the main entry site for SARS-CoV-2 into nasal epithelial tissue,” Jackson points out. “Once the virus crosses that barrier, it can freely replicate in the underlying cells,” he adds.
In fact, this mechanism was quite similar when the organoid was exposed to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the Omicron strain BA.1. In the last experiment, the process was a little faster, but it still followed the same pattern. At this stage, regardless of the virus, it is possible to inactivate the infection before it settles, according to the experiments.
“Delaying viral entry, exit, or spread with a short-acting, locally applied drug would help our immune system catch up and get there in time to stop full-blown infection. Luckily, [a estratégia] would limit future pandemics”, adds the scientist. Now, the idea is to expand the tests to animal models and, in the future, test in humans.
Source: Cell and Stanford University