Covid: take a stock on intranasal vaccines under development

Published by Laurent P. · Published on 10 September 2021 at 15h46
Will the fight against Covid involve a nasal spray? Many searchers are working hard to develop a vaccine using this method, like searchers from the Tours university and Inrae who may be able to develop a vaccine using this technology within a few months. Here are all works conducted on the matter.

How about getting vaccine or a medicine up one’s nose to fight against Covid? A not-so-crazy idea several scientific teams have been working on for months and likely to revolutionize the spread of vaccine around the world. Easy to use and cheap… A nose spray is THE perfect solution to spread vaccine in emerging countries, and also a solution to encourage people terrified of needles to do it.

As for research, where is it at? As reminded by our peers from Francetvinfo, about twenty scientists from the Tours University and Inrae [the National Institute of Agricultural, Food, and Environment Research] are currently working on a vaccine using this technology. "It's a small piece that will be put at the tip of a needle-less syringe. Once the product is injected, it will be sprayed in each nostril, enabling to get enough diffusion all over the mucosal surface", Inrae searcher Mathieu Epardaud told Francetvinfo.

This vaccine could be stored between 4 and 20°C, making transport and injection easiter. As for the action itself, it remains a medical one and must be performed by a doctor. As for an in-human clinical trial, it could start from late 2021 or early 2022, depending on the progress of scientists. A technology that is not new: Vaxinano - a startup in Northern France - has been working on this injection process for over 30 years.

How does this spray work? This is a "patented technology" using biodegradable cornstarch nanoparticles made of proteins from the virus and "that can cross the mucous membrane and catch the virus antigenes". A technology already used in zoos to vaccine some animals against toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, especially in monkeys and lemurs.

And the primary results are encouraging:

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Is a genuinely effective intranasal covid vaccine soon to be available? This is what searchers from the Inrae and the Tours University say as they registered a patent on Thursday September 9, 2021 as for a candidate vaccine that led to promising results on animals, including a 100% effectiveness, according to scientists. But where are the clinical trials at? Keep reading to find out more. [Read more]

The Pharma & Beauty case

Another Covid nasal spray was developed, designed by Pharma & Beauty laboratory but it has encountered many adventures. After being announced it will be marketed, the ANSM has decided otherwise on Monday February 22, after stopping the marketing authorization of the product designed by COV-Defense, also known as Biokami. Why? The health authorities have not "received any clinical validation data showing the performance, and safety of use of this spray, compulsory condition for a medical device to be issued on the market, according to the European rules", as the regulator explains in a release.

They went on to say: "In the absence of such guarantees, and expecting further data, the market issuance, distribution, advertising, and use of the spray are halted until their are complying with the rules". Yet, the laboratory announced they have developed a preventive medicine using this technology and able to eliminate about 99% of the viral load in one's nose in only 30 seconds.

This spray was said to be issued from March 1, 2021. It is based on 40% of ionized water that enables - according to several studies - to dramatically curb the spread of virus, up to 90%, and on 60% of purified water. "It enables to prevent viral dissemination, unclog by mechanical action infectious agents in the nasal cavities and facilitate discharge, and then locally reduce the viral load" the laboratory details on social networks.

But doctors and scientists are skeptical as for the effectiveness of this product. And for good reason, not scientific study has been released so far about this spray, and there have been no in vitro results, and no in vivo results either. And yet, this step is compulsory ahead to marketing such treatment, medically speaking, of course.

The process yet proved its worth... "We have succesffuly in vitro tested ionized water on the virus with the NF-EN-14476+A2 method. In broad outline, it consists in placing a large quantity of the virus in touch with the product to test, after 30 seconds, we stop the reaction to observe the virucide effect. In the case of the ionized water, it was 99.9%" IUH Méditerranée lecturer Bernard La Scola told L'Express.

A study is yet to be released soon - according to the lecturer also explaining that they are not done writing an article on the matter and must be peer-reviewed before publication. "But I have no idea as to the official release date since it will depend on how fast the peer-review is completed. But now, there are so many studies on Covid submitted the review deadline is extended" he goes on. He concludes: "I can confirm we have carried not human test, and I doubt Pharma and Beauty had either. Therefore, it is hard to say how clinically effective the spray is".

Yet, to make sure the product is effective, it requires two sprayings four to six times a day. Please also note that after spraying in each nostril, you have to blow your nose several times to get rid of mucous and of course wash your hands after use if contact. This spray is not to stop complying with health guidelines. Production is expected to start from mid-February... The company considers that between "one and three million units will be available in March, then 13 to 15 million every month from April" as reported by La Dépêche. The spray will be sold 14.90 euros apiece, for a 30ml (1.01 oz_us) bottle likely to last about a month.

Other ongoing studies

This preventive treatment is not the only one subject to clinical trials. Vaccines using the nasal spray technologie are also being studied. The first team of searchers – led by Sorbonne Université lecturer Philippe Karoyan at the Laboratoire des Biomolécules – has developed a protein acting like a bait and able to prevent the virus from attacking one’s lungs and prevent Covid from evolving to a severe form. So far, trials have only been conducted on pulmonary cells and not in humans yet. Note that a patent application has been filled as for the administration mode.

As for the second team, it is led by searchers from the Institut Pasteur in Lille, in partnership with TheraVectys. They based their research on a vaccine against whopping cough. The idea? As Covid gets through one’s airways, it is crucial to protect this “door” from the virus: “Our strategy is to inoculate vaccine through one’s nose to locally induce a response before the virus gets in. The idea is to prevent the virus from entering to enable genuine herd immunityLille Institut Pasteur INSERM head of research Pr. Camille Locht.

Please note that other teams around the world are working on this way of vaccination. Among them, Australian company ENA Respiratory or even teams from the universities of Pennsylvania and Washington.

Practical information