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Nasal spray protects against any strain of flu

Woman sick with the fluA developmental nasal spray may be able to prevent infection from any strain of the flu. The in-the-works drug was shown to protect mice in a recent animal study.

Upon influenza infection, viruses attach to receptors in the throat and nose. The nasal spray works by coating these receptors with engineered proteins so that viruses are unable to attach to them, according to a New York Times report.

“We believe that our approach has the potential to be used as a preventative against any current and new virus that emerges, such as H5N1, H7N9 and the very recent H10N8,” lead researcher Garry Taylor, a professor of molecular biophysics at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, said in a statement.

The novel spray is particularly exciting as it holds the potential for more far-reaching applications. Developing a new vaccine is a complex and often lengthy process that typically takes six months from start to finish. During this time, the nasal spray could easily be made in large quantities since they derive from common bacteria.

Researchers hope the new approach will eventually be used as a first-line protection against pandemic strains while new vaccines are being developed.

In recent mice studies, a single intranasal dose protected mice from lethal influenza exposure. Researchers report that not only did the mice avoid infection; they also produced antibodies against the virus.

The nasal spray still has a long road ahead in terms of getting approved. Further research and studies are required, but experts are hopeful.

By Marianne Hayes