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A single-administration therapeutic interfering particle reduces SARS-CoV-2 viral shedding and pathogenesis in hamsters.

  • Chaturvedi, Sonali
  • Beutler, Nathan
  • Pablo, Michael
  • Vasen, Gustavo
  • Chen, Xinyue
  • Calia, Giuliana
  • Buie, Lauren
  • Rodick, Robert
  • Smith, Davey
  • Rogers, Thomas
  • Weinberger, Leor S
Publication Date
Aug 11, 2022
eScholarship - University of California
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The high transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 is a primary driver of the COVID-19 pandemic. While existing interventions prevent severe disease, they exhibit mixed efficacy in preventing transmission, presumably due to their limited antiviral effects in the respiratory mucosa, whereas interventions targeting the sites of viral replication might more effectively limit respiratory virus transmission. Recently, intranasally administered RNA-based therapeutic interfering particles (TIPs) were reported to suppress SARS-CoV-2 replication, exhibit a high barrier to resistance, and prevent serious disease in hamsters. Since TIPs intrinsically target the tissues with the highest viral replication burden (i.e., respiratory tissues for SARS-CoV-2), we tested the potential of TIP intervention to reduce SARS-CoV-2 shedding. Here, we report that a single, post-exposure TIP dose lowers SARS-CoV-2 nasal shedding and at 5 days post-infection infectious virus shed is below detection limits in 4 out of 5 infected animals. Furthermore, TIPs reduce shedding of Delta variant or WA-1 from infected to uninfected hamsters. Co-housed 'contact' animals exposed to infected, TIP-treated, animals exhibited significantly lower viral loads, reduced inflammatory cytokines, no severe lung pathology, and shortened shedding duration compared to animals co-housed with untreated infected animals. TIPs may represent an effective countermeasure to limit SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Significance: COVID-19 vaccines are exceptionally effective in preventing severe disease and death, but they have mixed efficacy in preventing virus transmission, consistent with established literature that parenteral vaccines for other viruses fail to prevent mucosal virus shedding or transmission. Likewise, small-molecule antivirals, while effective in reducing viral-disease pathogenesis, also appear to have inconsistent efficacy in preventing respiratory virus transmission including for SARS-CoV-2. Recently, we reported the discovery of a single-administration antiviral Therapeutic Interfering Particle (TIP) against SARS-CoV-2 that prevents severe disease in hamsters and exhibits a high genetic barrier to the evolution of resistance. Here, we report that TIP intervention also reduces SARS-CoV-2 transmission between hamsters.

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