UVA researchers: Nasal sprays important in fighting COVID-19 variants

UVA professor Jie Sun, (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University of Virginia Communications)
UVA professor Jie Sun, (Photo by Erin Edgerton, University of Virginia Communications)(wvir)
Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 9:52 AM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Researchers at the University of Virginia are looking for new ways to stay ahead of COVID-19 variants.

Jie Sun, who helped lead the collaborative research, is a UVA professor of medicine. While he and his team say vaccination shots are important to prevent hospitalization and death, a nasal mist could potentially limit the viral spread.

Research conducted on mice suggest the vaccine in shot form builds an immune response in the blood stream. While in mist form, the immune response builds in the respiratory tract, at the site of infection.

Sun says one issue with the nasal vaccine is safety assurance.

“We need to do a step-up trial from a mouse to human study. In China, there’s already been a study using nasal adenovirus spray,” the professor said.

He says the study proved positive immune responses, but mucosal immunity was not studied, a concern some researchers have over mist vaccines.

“I would say we are not there yet, but I’m hopeful someday we can develop such a vaccine,” Sun said.

This research was led by UVA Health, the Mayo Clinic, Chung-Ang University (Korea), Indiana University, the University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

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