French researchers ready to “sing the Russian anthem” to finance their anti-Covid nasal spray project

Philippe Karoyan is working on creating a spray capable of blocking the coronavirus. He told Sputnik that he was prepared to “sing the Russian anthem” if Moscow funds his research.

A team of French researchers is working on the development of a nasal spray which helps prevent the coronavirus from attaching to lung cells. If they receive the required funding, the drug will be available in six months, Philippe Karoyan, researcher at the CNRS and professor at the Sorbonne, told Sputnik.

“We worked in the team on a treatment that blocks the virus and this treatment is based on the biological target, the human target of the virus. […] The virus has a protein on its surface […] which is represented in the form of small peptides and this protein constitutes a key, ”he explains.

Fake locks

According to him, by entering the body, the coronavirus uses a “key” which interacts with a human target which constitutes a “lock”. Both are proteins. The one on the surface of the virus interacts with the ACE2 protein (angiotensin 2 converting enzyme) and opens the doors to the coronavirus which begins to multiply, explains the specialist.

He and his team simulated this human “lock”. “We built these mimes and evaluated their ability to interact with the virus and block infection of lung cells by this virus.”

Using an algorithm, they built 160 fake “locks” of which 25 were made in the lab and were then tested for their ability to block the virus. “Of these 25 fake locks, there are three that have proven to be extremely effective”, he emphasizes.

“We have shown that the interaction is so strong that once our peptides are attached to the Spike protein, there is no going back”, says Karoyan. It is through its Spike protein that the virus enters a cell to infect it.

5 million euros required

The team’s objective is now to develop this tool as a prophylactic approach, form nasal spray. The peptide will therefore bind to the tissues and if the individual comes into contact with the virus, it will be blocked. People who are already sick could also use it, insists the researcher.

As the development of the project is estimated at five million euros, his team is currently looking for an investor. The product will be ready in six months if the money arrives today, says Philippe Karoyan.

The next step will be the in vivo tests on a hamster and a green monkey. It costs 700,000 euros and should last three months. Once this study has been validated, researchers will be able to move on to the one on humans.

“If the Russian state is ready to support me, I want to go and sing the Russian anthem. […] Time is money, ”concludes Karoyan.

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