Nose as an Epicenter of COVID-19

Nasal defenses from coronavirus epidemic

Inhaler

Inhaler

Is nasal defense the next big idea in coronavirus prevention? In fact, we now know that the nose is the epicenter of the infectious process, according to University of North Carolina (UNC) researchers writing in the May 26, 2020 issue of the journal Cell.

Scientists at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and School of Medicine have characterized the specific ways in which SARS-CoV-2—the coronavirus that causes COVID-19—infects the nasal cavity to a great degree by replicating specific cell types there. But it infects and replicates progressively less well in cells lower down the respiratory tract, including in the lungs.

The findings show that the virus tends to become firmly established first in the nasal cavity because more of the receptors they bind to are there. Then, in some cases, the virus joins with others to form bubble-like particles that break off and are aspirated into the lungs where it may cause more serious disease, including potentially fatal pneumonia.

Antiviral Nasal Spray

A strong first defense begins in the nose. “If the nose is the dominant initial site from which lung infections are seeded, then the widespread use of masks to protect the nasal passages, as well as any therapeutic strategies that reduce virus in the nose, such as nasal irrigation or antiviral nasal sprays, could be beneficial,” said study co-senior author Dr. Richard Boucher, the James C. Moeser Eminent Distinguished Professor of medicine and director of the Marsico Lung Institute at the UNC School of Medicine.

The operative phrase, as far as the health of first responders, medical professionals, and essential personnel is concerned, was that UNC researchers recommended use of “nasal irrigation or antiviral nasal sprays.”

This has led researchers to see if a nasal spray could actually prevent infection. Much of the research in this area is being done by Xlear, Inc., a research-oriented xylitol company based in American Fork, Utah. Xlear has been working with Dr. Gustavo Ferrer, a pulmonologist and founder of the Cleveland Clinic Florida Cough Clinic in Aventura, Florida, and another clinician Dr. Lon Jones, D.O., the inventor, and patent holder of the intellectual property for specific respiratory uses of xylitol. Both doctors had been working with a nasal spray, intended for treatment of allergy and flu symptoms, starting in 2018.

The parties were cooperatively developing a spray preparation based primarily on chlorpheniramine (CPM), a long-used, first-generation antihistamine with antiviral properties; xylitol, a five-carbon sugar that is known to fight dental caries and improve the body’s nasal defenses; and other ingredients such as beta-glucans and grapefruit seed extract (GSE) as a safe antimicrobial.

Potent Antiviral

As the coronavirus pandemic emerged in March, Dr. Ferrer’s team of clinicians began using the Xlear Rescue nasal formula themselves and with their non-hospitalized patients. Symptoms were resolving within forty-hours. There were no tests then to confirm whether the formula was treating patients suffering from common flu or COVID-19. But since that time, Dr. Ferrer and his staff have worked with many patients who have tested positive for the coronavirus. Their symptoms were not worsening. There are other doctors in this research group who reported similar results for themselves, staff, and non-hospitalized patients.

Inspired by these findings, Xlear sponsored research at Utah State University’s Institute for Antiviral Research and the University of Geneva Laboratory of Professor Tapparel to test the nasal spray against COVID-19 starting in March. HealthyLivinG reported an initial series of test-tube experiments conducted at the University of Utah, which used water and denatured alcohol as controls and found the CPM-xylitol-GSE spray eliminated 70% the COVID-19 virus after 25 minutes (a standard time to assay antiviral activity).

The study demonstrated the “strong virucidal effect against SARS-CoV-2,” reported Dr. Jonna B. Westover, the lead author of study, in an advanced copy of the study that HealthyLivinG received.

But we also cauti0ned these early test-tube studies used the whole Rescue nasal spray formula and hadn’t isolated individual ingredients.

University of Geneva

University of Geneva

Additional studies at the University of Geneva in Switzerland confirmed the Utah State University results that the Xlear Rescue nasal formula is highly effective at killing COVID-19. The Xlear Rescue formula “neutralized” the virus at a concentration at which “no cellular toxicity was evidenced.”

Grapefruit Seed Extract Eliminates Virus

More recent studies released in June from Utah State University further show that the active agent was neither CPM nor xylitol but GSE, which killed 99 percent of the virus within 15 minutes. Preservatives are used in virtually all of our foods to prevent mold and microbial vergrowth. However, GSE is a naturally sourced preservative that is considered to be least toxic to human health but apparently is a strong foe of the COVID-19 virus.

“One commonly used preservative, benzalkonium chloride, is used in many nasal sprays, and its natural counterpart, grapefruit seed extract, is used in many more as a safer alternative,” notes Dr. Jones. “Benzalkonium chloride was shown in the October 2005 issue of the Journal of Hospital Infection to kill the SARS coronavirus, and now grapefruit seed extract has been shown to kill the SARS CoV-2 virus, the virus behind our current pandemic. In 15 minutes it kills 99% of the virus. What this means is that we have a way to stop the virus, but GSE cannot claim to stop the pandemic.”

Too Simple and Practical?

Dr. Ferrer, in fact, met with Food and Drug Administration officials, together with representives from Xlear in February, and correspondence has occurred since that time between the parties’ attorney and FDA that HealthyLivinG has obtained.

The Xlear Rescue product represents a practical simple method of empowering citizens, including first responders, medical and essential personnel, to protect themselves by using a nasal wash that kills the virus in the nose, says Dr. Jones. Yet, because it is so highly unprofitable and not a drug, FDA has shown no interest in fast-tracking or funding research, he adds.

“The FDA responded to this by stating that there are no known nasally administered antiviral drugs so GSE sponsors need to start from scratch,” notes Dr. Jones.

Nontheless, “GSE has been safely used nasally in low concentrations like the one tested in our product for decades and it is completely safe; nasal administration is both wise and effective because that’s where the virus enters our bodies,” says the doctor.

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