A Spray of Good News08-06-2020
By Roger Berkowitz
The ingenuity of scientists who have developed dozens of vaccines that may be ready in late 2020 or early 2021 is now matched by a group of scientists at UCSF who have developed a potential way to stop the spread of Covid-19 through aerosolized nanobodies inspired by llamas. Read their pre-print here.
As the world awaits vaccines to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, UC San Francisco scientists have devised a novel approach to halting the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.
Led by UCSF graduate student Michael Schoof, a team of researchers engineered a completely synthetic, production-ready molecule that straitjackets the crucial SARS-CoV-2 machinery that allows the virus to infect our cells. As reported in a new paper, now available on the preprint server bioRxiv, experiments using live virus show that the molecule is among the most potent SARS-CoV-2 antivirals yet discovered.
In an aerosol formulation they tested, dubbed "AeroNabs" by the researchers, these molecules could be self-administered with a nasal spray or inhaler. Used once a day, AeroNabs could provide powerful, reliable protection against SARS-CoV-2 until a vaccine becomes available. The research team is in active discussions with commercial partners to ramp up manufacturing and clinical testing of AeroNabs. If these tests are successful, the scientists aim to make AeroNabs widely available as an inexpensive, over-the-counter medication to prevent and treat COVID-19.