New research could be used to protect against and treat COVID-19.

Researchers have engineered two small and specifically targeted proteins that could be administered as a nasal spray to protect against and treat COVID-19.

The discovery provides another, potentially lower-cost therapeutic option for those who cannot receive traditional vaccines or are considered high risk.

“This study offers the possibility of an on-demand nasal spray able to tackle COVID either before or after virus exposure,” says Zhilei Chen, associate professor at Texas A&M University.

The proteins were templated on the designed ankyrin repeat protein (DARPin), a synthetic scaffold inspired by a class of binding proteins commonly found in nature.

Compared to conventional antibody-based drugs, DARPins are less prone to “go bad” during prolonged storage at moderate-to-high temperatures and can be made in large quantities at low cost, making DARPins potentially much more affordable.

In addition, since DARPins are about one-eighth the size of an antibody, they have the capacity to access specific therapeutically important “hot spots” on a disease-related protein with greater precision.

The study appears in Nature Chemical Biology.

COVID-19 has had a lasting global health impact that continues to challenge the health care system. As the coronavirus continues to mutate, current COVID-19 prevention strategies are plagued with supply chain disruptions, high vaccine manufacturing costs, and inconvenient vaccine administration methods.

Read the full article about research on COVID-19 treatment at Futurity.