Estonian researchers from Icosagen have developed enhanced antibodies that neutralise the Omicron virus strain, as well as the older Delta strain. Chemi-Pharm has introduced the new generation of antibodies into the production of the enhanced version of BioBlock nasal spray, limited quantities of which have gone on sale last week. The enhanced BioBlock nasal spray can be identified by the words Omicron and Delta printed on the packaging and the bottle.
New and more effective BioBlock antibodies, work against the original strains, the Delta strain that continues to burden the hospital system, and the currently dominant Omicron virus strain. Antibodies used in BioBlock originate in the colostrum of immunised cows. Developed on the basis of the colostrum received after the first calving of the cows, the original BioBlock nasal spray is effective against the Wuhan strain of SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as all similar strains – Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.
“The currently dominant Omicron strain differs from previous coronavirus variants – the BioBlock nasal spray with a new generation of antibodies is a counter-attack to the changes in the virus. We have obtained more versatile and highly effective antibodies from the colostrum of cows that have been repeatedly immunised and have repeatedly calved during the immunisation period, because we have used the new, currently most common viral proteins each time we have immunised the cows. The analysis of the surface proteins of the Omicron strain showed that the antibodies isolated from the colostrum of repeatedly immunised cows are significantly more effective in neutralising the Omicron strain. Consequently, it is our responsibility to use only the best antibodies in BioBlock,” says Prof. Mart Ustav, CEO of Icosagen.
“Antibodies are extremely accurate at the target, and just as cross-head screws of different sizes can best be loosened with a cross-head screwdriver of the right size, it’s important to use the most appropriate antibodies for each virus strain. To increase the effectiveness of the nasal spray and to find effective antibodies against future virus strains, the consortium continued to immunise cows after calving during the next gestation, using spike proteins from different virus variants spreading among the population, as antigens. This approach has allowed us to react quickly to the changing virus,” Professor Mart Ustav notes.
“In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergence of new variants of the virus has been so common that by the end of traditional drug development, the relevance of the strain under study has passed and other strains are widespread. This makes it very difficult for researchers around the world to keep up with the pace of the coronavirus. Thanks to the ability of the consortium of Estonian researchers to react quickly to variations of the virus, people will be able to use BioBlock nasal spray with a new generation of antibodies,” says Dr Ruth Oltjer, CEO of Chemi-Pharm.
BioBlock with antibodies that are effective against Omicron is recognisable by the words Omicron and Delta printed on both the packaging and the bottle. The product name, manufacturing processes, recipe, safety, and instructions for use have not changed. BioBlock is neither a pharmaceutical drug nor a medical device. Neutralising antibodies produced from bovine colostrum are not absorbed or metabolised by the human body.
In addition to other protective measures, BioBlock nasal spray can be used wherever social distancing is difficult: at home, at work, at school, at the gym, in public transport, and in other crowded places. As the product is derived from bovine colostrum, it is not suitable for people with an allergy to milk proteins. This applies especially for children under the age of six. However, the product does not contain lactose.
The antibody mixture used in BioBlock has been thoroughly tested and proven to be functional. Testing of the binding of antibodies to the surface proteins of the virus revealed that the virus was no longer able to bind to the protein in the human cell, which would be a prerequisite for infection, after the addition of the antibodies.
BioBlock with the new generation of antibodies is available on the Medihex website, where product information can also be found. From the last week, the enhanced nasal spray will gradually become available in pharmacies, shops, etc.
BioBlock is an innovative Estonian product, and its concept was developed by Icosagen researchers under the guidance of Prof. Mart Ustav. A consortium, which includes researchers and experts from Chemi-Pharmi AS, Icosagen Cell Factory OÜ, the University of Tartu, the Estonian University of Life Sciences and Teadus ja Tegu OÜ, was formed to develop and launch BioBlock. The product technology is patented. BioBlock nasal spray is manufactured and marketed by Chemi-Pharm AS.