Due to the fact that the delta and Omicron variants have been spreading, researchers have been really looking into ways of protecting people against them as well as other emerging variants.
With that being said, it appears that one seemingly effective way of doing just that is a nasal vaccine!
This and more was shared by scientists that were part of a new study published in Science Immunology.
The senior author of the study and a Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor of Immunobiology, Akiko Iwasaki, from Yale University, shared in a press release that “A new response to this rapidly mutating virus might be right at the door to our lungs.”
The scientists worked with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York and together, they discovered that intranasal vaccination might be able to provide broad-based protection against certain respiratory viruses in mice.
They explained in the press release that mucous membranes have a line of defense of their own and that it is able to fight not only air but also food-borne pathogens!
The antibodies work locally on the mucosal linings of the nose but also of the stomach and the lungs, in ways that are generally different from vaccines which are able to trigger an overall system immune response in people.
The researcher group went on to mention that many studies have already determined the protective role of IgA-producing cells when it comes to dealing with intestinal pathogens.
With that being said, they decided to look into whether or not triggering an IgA response might also produce a local immune response against respiratory viruses such as COVID-19.
Iwasaki pointed out in the press release that “The best immune defense happens at the gate, guarding against viruses trying to enter.”
The scientists tested a protein-based vaccine on mice, administered intranasally as well as through injections.
The step that followed was to expose the mice to a number of different influenza strains.
What they found was that the mice that were vaccinated nasally turned out to have better protection against the viruses than those that were vaccinated through the classic means.
Furthermore, they also realized that nasal vaccines produced antibodies that protected the mice not just against the strain the vaccine was created to fight but against other strains of the virus as well!
According to the researcher team, the same thing did not also happen in the other group of mice that were vaccinated using the usual method.
Iwasaki explained that “While both vaccine injections and nasal vaccines increased levels of antibodies in the blood of mice, only the nasal vaccine enabled IgA secretion into the lungs, where respiratory viruses need to lodge to infect the host.”
The team went on to say that, if proven just as effective in humans, they see nasal vaccines being used in parallel with the current vaccines and boosters out there as a way of reinforcing people’s immune systems to fight delta, Omicron and any other future variant.