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Treatments that target the coronavirus in the nose might help prevent COVID-19


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Coronavirus treatments targeting the nose may help prevent COVID-19 | Science News

Scientists and doctors want to interrupt the virus before it settles in

COVID-19 can ravage the body, targeting the lungs, heart and blood vessels. To curb this wide-ranging attack, scientists are focusing on another part of the body: the nose.

The virus that causes the illness, SARS-CoV-2, gains its foothold by infecting certain nasal cells, studies suggest (SN: 6/12/20). As a result, the nose has emerged as a key battleground in the war against COVID-19. Slowing or stopping that nasal invasion might ultimately be powerful enough to change the course of the pandemic, some scientists suspect.

So far, no such therapies exist. But people who study the nose and its contents bring fresh perspectives about the early stages of COVID-19 infections. Scientists are developing and testing ways to prevent the virus from settling in to prime nasal real estate. These include a nose spray that smothers and inactivates a key viral protein, disinfectants that are commonly used before sinus surgeries, and even dilute baby shampoo misted up the nose.

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“I’m a nose person,” says Andrew Lane, an otolaryngologist and rhinology specialist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. But to most people, noses don’t usually spark a lot of interest, he says. “Now it’s the center of people’s attention.”

This nasal gazing makes perfect sense. “The nose is a place where the virus is setting up shop,” Lane says. In a recent study, he and colleagues measured levels of a protein on human cells called ACE2 that’s thought to be one of the ways the virus can infect the cells. Among a collection of human tissues taken from the noses and throats of people, the upper back part of the nasal cavity, known as the olfactory epithelium, was packed with ACE2. (This spot is also where smell cells dwell; SARS-CoV-2 infections there have been linked to loss of smell (SN: 5/11/20).

“You would just see this incredibly bright signal coming from the olfactory epithelium,” Lane says. That ACE2 signal suggests that those cells might be key entry ports that allow the virus to move into the rest of the body, and even perhaps back out again to infect other people, the researchers report in the Sept. 1 European Respiratory Journal. (more)
To interrupt the infection in the nose, some scientists are turning to specialized immune proteins found in camels, llamas and alpacas. Called nanobodies, these proteins help fight off invaders in the body, but are smaller and thought to be hardier than their human antibody kin. In lab studies of proteins and cells in dishes, biochemist Aashish Manglik and cell biologist Peter Walter, both at the University of California, San Francisco, have shown that custom-designed nanobodies can smother the spike protein that the coronavirus can use to break into cells (SN: 2/3/20).

The researchers haven’t yet tested the nanobodies in people. But their preliminary results suggest that, once neutralized with nanobodies, the virus “cannot enter human cells,” Walter says. “It cannot establish that beachfront in the nasal cavity.” These nanobodies were stable when dried and aerosolized, the researchers found, suggesting that they could be made into a nose spray. The most recent results, which haven’t been peer-reviewed, were posted August 17 at bioRxiv.org. The team hopes to begin tests in laboratory animals and eventually, in humans. Walter and Manglik hold patents on the specially designed nanobodies.

A simpler approach would be to wash away or kill the virus in the nose. Some doctors have begun looking at iodine — the basis of a common antiseptic that can treat wounds and disinfect skin before surgeries. In a June 10 review article in Ear, Nose & Throat Journal, researchers describe evidence that suggests a dilute solution called povidone-iodine might safely eradicate SARS-CoV-2 in the nasal cavity and throat.

These scientists have found that nanaobodies can be dried & dispensed as an aerosol spray.


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'Every virus has a key on the surface - this one is called the spike protein - and this key opens a lock, and the lock is a [ACE2] receptor, and your nose is just loaded with receptors for this virus,' explained co-lead study author, Dr Richard Bouche during an interview with DailyMail.com.

'So if this virus impacts there, it finds very fertile ground for infection.'

Not only are there lots of 'keys' that fit the virus's 'key,' Dr Boucher and his team found that it can replicate itself far more prolifically in nasal tissues than in other tissues.

'It really blooms i the nasal surfaces,' said Dr Boucher.

'It really is the nose that is the engine for this thing, so you have to protect it.'

From the researchers at University of North Carolina studying the viruses most likely access to our bodies.

Although so far medical experts have said wearing a mask protects others it appears if worn properly covering the nose it may protect the wearer.

Maybe we should concentrate on a better filter for the nose and encourage using a neti pot nightly.

Coronavirus can infect nostrils MUCH more easily than the lungs | Daily Mail Online
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