UC Berkeley scientists develop new COVID nasal spray that targets present, future virus mutations

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
New nasal spray at UC Berkeley targets Covid-19 mutations
A new nasal spray developed by scientists at UC Berkeley is said to work against all present and future variants of Covid-19.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- A team of researchers from U.C. Berkeley is developing a new COVID-19 nasal spray that could prevent people from getting sick.

It appears to work against all current variants and all future variants, which could be a real game changer.

It's new science emerging from U.C. Berkeley that researchers say is ready to take to the FDA to start human trials.

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It's a team effort that doesn't target the spike protein on the COVID virus like current vaccines do. Instead, this new treatment targets the heart of the virus, the nucleus, as it attacks human cells.

"The virus actually reprograms the cell into its own copy machine, so it injects, it's like a Trojan horse, it injects the genomic RNA from the virus into the cell and that RNA then makes copies of itself and all the other stuff the virus needs. So we're binding molecular velcro to the virus, so it's tiny snippets of DNA that bind to specific sequences of the RNA and gums it up, jams the copy machine. So this is very different from previous efforts," said Anders Naar, a U.C. Berkeley professor of metabolic biology in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology.

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The newly developed nasal spray is designed to prevent infections even from mutations. And if someone already had COVID, a version dispensed from something like an asthma inhaler would decrease the severity of the symptoms. No refrigeration would be required so it has global ramifications.

UC Berkeley scientists are ready to take their new COVID preventive to the FDA to move forward with clinical trials in humans. If all goes as predicted, it could be available for use by fall of 2023.


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