Nasal Spray May Prevent Ear Infection

Experimental Nasal Spray Shows Promise in Lab Tests on Mice

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 23, 2007
From the WebMD Archives

March 23, 2007 -- Inventors of a new nasal spray designed to help prevent ear infections in children report promising results in lab tests on mice.

Those tests show the spray, which doesn't have a name yet, was 100% effective in preventing ear infections in mice exposed to pneumonia bacteria and the flu virus. Testing has not yet been done on humans.

The spray's developers include Jonathan McCullers, MD, of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and Vincent Fischetti, PhD, of the bacterial pathogenesis lab at New York's Rockefeller University.

The researchers exposed mice to a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae. About half of all children carry that bacterium, the researchers note.

One week later, the scientists gave half the mice the experimental nasal spray, which contains a protein called lysin (different from lysine supplements) that attacks the bacteria. The rest of the mice received a placebo nasal spray containing no lysin or other medicine.

Then the mice were exposed to a flu virus four hours after treatment with either the experimental or placebo nasal sprays.

None of the mice that had gotten the experimental spray developed ear infections. But ear infections developed in 80% of the mice that had gotten the placebo spray.

Children and adults can now be vaccinated against S. pneumoniae, which helps reduce the number of infections that occur from the bacteria, such as ear infections and pneumonia.

The findings appear in Public Library of Science Pathogens.

Rockefeller University recently licensed the lysin technology rights to a company called Enzybiotics Inc. Fischetti leads the company's scientific advisory board, notes a Rockefeller University news release.

Show Sources

SOURCES: McCullers, J. Public Library of Science Pathogens, March 2007. News release, The Rockefeller University. News release, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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