A possible new protection against the virus won't come with needles as the University of California, San Fransisco scientists develop an antiviral nasal spray, containing nanobodies, that will prevent the SARS-CoV2 virus in infecting the body even as it enters.
The Novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is the disease caused by the SARS-CoV2 virus, according to UCSF.
UCSF believes that this nasal spray will slow down the spread of the virus when used by a patient. A regular person can administer this form of protection without requiring the presence of medical professionals.
Leading the groundbreaking discovery is Michael Schoof, a UCSF graduate student that worked with a team that produced this finding.
"We assembled an incredible group of talented biochemists, cell biologists, virologists and structural biologists to get the project from start to finish in only a few months," said Schoof.
The team discovered a fully synthetic, production-ready molecule that is very stable and proves useful. This breakthrough by the team is published on a preprint server BioRxiv.
Its stability gives it the ability to be administered through a nasal spray or portable inhaler available for extensive public use.
AeroNabs as a substitute to PPE
The scientists recommend it to be administered daily to ensure the spray's effectivity in going out. Additionally, scientists note that AeroNabs act as a 'Personal Protective Equipment' or PPE, the same one that medical personnel use as shields against the coronavirus.
"Far more effective than wearable forms of personal protective equipment, we think of AeroNabs as a molecular form of PPE that could serve as an important stopgap until vaccines provide a more permanent solution to COVID-19," Peter Walter, Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF and co-inventor of AeroNabs said.
Walter added that it is also possible that a handful of people would possibly have an allergic reaction to vaccines, including the would-be COVID-19 vaccine. Moreover, not everyone would produce a positive response to vaccines.
AeroNabs would provide an excellent substitute for people who will be allergic to the future vaccine.
UCSF's groundbreaking team stated that they were inspired by nanobodies found in Llamas, camels, and related animals that produce this type of immunity.
Ablynx defines nanobodies as a single-domain antibody that possesses a "heavy-chain only" antibodies. These antibodies have a full antigen-binding capacity that makes it very stable and potent. Nanobodies are small-sized and uniquely structured ideal to be used as "building blocks" for biological drugs.
"Though they function much like the antibodies found in the human immune system, nanobodies offer a number of unique advantages for effective therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2," explained by co-inventor and assistant professor of pharmaceutical chemistry, Aashish Manglik, MD, Ph.D.
Manglik has been using nanobodies as a primary component and researches that is incredibly potent and stable in nature. This inspired the team in using nanobodies to create a protein that latches itself to SARS-CoV2 viruses as it traverses around the human body.
AeroNabs nanobody molecules function
The coronavirus utilizes "spikes" to latch onto active human cells, particularly lung cells, called the ACE2 receptor. This method by the virus then infects active cells and lets it do its work for them by causing a chain reaction that infects other cells, thus creating a network of infection.
'AeroNabs' molecules, in the form of purely synthetic nanobodies, latches itself with the SARS-CoV2 virus, impeding the virus's ability to infect ACE2 receptors.
The team is working to make the aerosolized spray affordable and be available for over-the-counter purchase.
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Written by Isaiah Alonzo