Researchers of UC San Francisco have developed a novel approach to cease the spread of SARS-CoV-2, responsible for pandemic COVID-19. The scientists developed this approach by engineering a synthetic, production-ready molecule that restraints the critical SARS-CoV-2 machinery which, aids virus to infect the cells. They experimented in an aerosol formulation where these molecules could be self-administered with the help of a nasal spray or inhaler.
Researchers reported that AeroNabs should be used once in a day, and has the potential to provide reliable protection against SARS-CoV-2 until vaccine is available. The research team is currently focusing on clinical testing of AeroNabs and if the trial is successful, then researchers will make AeroNabs widely available as an economical, over-the-counter medication to inhibit and treat COVID-19.
Peter Walter, Co-inventor from UCSF and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator stated, “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. For those who cannot access or don't respond to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, Walter added, AeroNabs could be a more permanent line of defense against COVID-19.
Moreover, this novel approach was entirely developed in the lab, however AeroNabs were inspired by nanobodies, antibody-like immune proteins which are naturally found in llamas, camels, and related animals.
In the ultimate set of experiments, researchers exposed three-part nanobodies through a sequence of stress tests, where these nanobodies were subjected to high temperatures and turning them into a shelf-stable powder, and creating an aerosol. Researchers reported that each of these processes is highly detrimental to most of the proteins, however, due to intrinsic stability of nanobodies, there was no loss of antiviral potency in the aerosolized form, which concludes that AeroNabs are is apotential SARS-CoV-2 antiviral which can be easily administered through a shelf-stable inhaler or nasal spray.