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An interdisciplinary team led by University of Chicago researchers is designing biodegradable nanomedicines to capture and clear the novel coronavirus. The “nanotraps” are dotted with angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptors or SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies that bind the virus and prevent it from infecting cells.
The researchers tested the virus-trapping particles’ safety and effectiveness in several experiments. When a SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus and the nanotraps engineered with antibodies were injected into a healthy human lung in an ex vivo lung perfusion system, tissue sampling confirmed that the particles blocked infection. Both types of nanotraps also blocked human cell line infection with a SARS-CoV-2 pseudovirus.
The researchers incorporated a specific phospholipid into the particles’ surface to trigger macrophage immune cells to engulf and clear the virus. To test this, they added Nanotrap-ACE2 to a culture of human lung epithelial cells, pseudovirus, and macrophages. The particles captured the virus and were engulfed by the immune cells, with negligible incorporation into epithelial cells.
Investigational soluble recombinant ACE2 proteins and anti–SARS-CoV-2 neutralizing antibodies haven’t been highly potent against the virus. The new nanoparticles were 10 times more effective than soluble neutralizing antibodies at inhibiting authentic SARS-CoV-2 infection in a monkey epithelial cell line. The nanotraps were also found to be safe in both human cell lines and mice.
The results pave the way for clinical trials, the researchers wrote in Matter. The nanotraps can be stored in a standard freezer and have the potential to be formulated into a nasal spray or inhaler, an oral or ocular liquid, or an injection.
Abbasi J. “Nanotraps” Designed to Capture and Clear SARS-CoV-2. JAMA. 2021;325(22):2243. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.8165
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