Researchers at Gladstone Institutes tested intranasal therapeutic interfering particles (TIPs) treatment on hamsters infected with SARS-CoV-2. The results of the study showed that a single dose of the intranasal TIPs treatment reduces the amount of virus transmitted and protects animals in contact with the treated animal.
During the study, infected animals were housed in cages with uninfected animals and while the did not fully prevent the transmission of COVID-19, it did lead to lower viral loads and milder symptoms of infection in newly exposed animals. Initial experiments were conducted using the Delta strain of SARS-CoV-2 and repeated using WA-1 strain and the same TIPs were effective across variants.
“This particular laboratory setting is known to generate much more efficient transmission than typically seen in humans, even in household settings, because the hamsters not only transmit via aerosols, but also through bodily fluids and by climbing over and grooming each other for many hours,” said Leor Weinberger, Senior Investigator at Gladstone Institutes.
Researchers studied the amount of virus in the animals’ noses daily. Hamsters that received the TIPs treatment had less virus in their nasal passages at every time point. The study’s report noted that by day 5, all hamsters not treated with the TIPs treatment were shedding high levels of the virus while the virus was undetectable in four out five.
Weinberger explained that the results of the treatment to “reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission in this animal setting is quite promising for being able to reduce human-to-human transmission."
“If viral shedding can be reduced, the number of secondary contacts likely to become infected will also very likely be reduced, which will in turn decrease overall virus dissemination and help keep vulnerable individuals safe,” Weinberger added.
The study was supported by Pamela and Edward Taft, the United States Army Medical Infectious Disease Research Program, and the National Institutes of Health. Gladstone is now seeking Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a clinical trial to test the TIPs treatment in humans.