Nov 5-New York City: Results from a recent study in domestic ferrets conducted at Columbia University, NY, showed that a drug delivered by nasal spray could block the absorption of the SARS-CoV2 virus, preventing Covid-19. (Brian Hews - New York Times; Nov 5, 2020). More importantly the test drug does not require refrigeration and is expected to be relatively inexpensive.
Ferrets are used by scientists studying flu, SARS and other respiratory diseases because they can catch viruses through the nose much as humans do, although they also infect each other by contact with feces or by scratching and biting. See: Covid 19 and Ferrets Covid Mar 22, 2020.
Six ferrets were used in the study, divided into pairs in three cages: one group received the test drug, one group received a “placebo” (no drug) spray, one ferret was deliberately infected with SARS-CoV-2 but received no spray a couple of days earlier. After 24 hours together, none of the ferrets that received the spray drug caught the disease, whereas all the placebo-treated ferrets became infected.
Scientists stated that the spray attacks the virus directly. It contains a lipopeptide, a cholesterol particle linked to a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This particular lipopeptide exactly matches a stretch of amino acids in the spike protein of the virus, which the pathogen uses to attach to a human airway or lung cell.
The medical team has applied to the federal government for funding to initiate studies in people.