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Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in a Nasal Spray Efficiently Block Viral Transmission Between Ferrets

Read the full publication here: https://www.cell.com/iscience/fulltext/S2589-0042(24)01551-7

Respiratory diseases pose a significant threat to public health worldwide. Developing effective treatments and preventive measures is crucial for managing these illnesses. One promising approach involves using neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) to block the entry of pathogens into human cells, thereby preventing infection.

Icosagen has developed a nasal spray, called BioBlock®, using nAbs derived from bovine colostrum. This technology, originally tested against SARS-CoV-2, can potentially be adapted to address a wide range of respiratory diseases, like influenza or RSV.

Cuddling ferrets shed high amounts of virus

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in a Nasal Spray Efficiently Block Viral Transmission Between Ferrets

Adapted from Gildemann et al 2024.

Prior to the current study, cows were re-immunized with SARS-CoV-2 spike proteins, and antibodies were extracted from their colostrum and processed to create a nasal spray containing nAbs.

BioBlock® was tested on ferrets to see if it could prevent virus transmission from infected to healthy animals. The most effective way to spread the virus from the infected to the healthy was for the animals to stay in close proximity.

Because ferrets shed high amounts of virus, particularly in their upper respiratory tract, when they cuddle, the virus can readily transfer to uninfected ferrets.

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in a Nasal Spray Efficiently Block Viral Transmission Between Ferrets


Adapted from Gildemann et al 2024.

The infection rate was 0% in treated ferrets with little to no variables, even when tested against the Wuhan strain which is highly zoonotic. Stabile results like these are usually very uncommon in animal testing and therefore an incredible find. The nAbs in BioBlock® effectively blocked the virus from binding to ACE2 in lab tests and prevented SARS-CoV-2 transmission in ferrets.

Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in a Nasal Spray Efficiently Block Viral Transmission Between Ferrets

“I was happy from the start to be involved in this experiment. CSO Mart Ustav jr. and CTO Andres Männik got me involved and trusted me to run it. It was a very proud feeling. The expectation was that BioBlock® would have some effect. I didn't expect it to be so successful and have a beautiful article about it," said our Head of the Immunological Diagnostics LaboratoryJoachim Gerhold.

Moving on

BioBlock®'s effectiveness in blocking virus transmission in ferrets suggests it could help control SARS-CoV-2 spread in humans and is a possible path towards helping with other respiratory diseases. The nasal spray could be a valuable tool in preventing infections and reducing community transmission, offering an additional layer of protection alongside vaccines and other measures.

Congratulations to the team!

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