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Exploring the Potential of Using Neosporin in the Nasal Passages to Combat COVID-19

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was speculation about whether applying Neosporin inside the nasal passages could provide protection against the novel virus.

This notion might seem surprising since Neosporin, a common ointment, primarily targets bacteria with its antibiotic properties rather than viruses. However, recent research suggests there may be some potential validity to the idea, although scientists are not advocating for the widespread use of Neosporin in nasal passages just yet. A study published in April in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA conducted experiments on rodents and conducted a preliminary test on a small group of humans. The findings hint at the possibility that the antibiotic in Neosporin could enhance the body’s innate immune response.

However, it’s essential to note that the study was exploratory, aimed at determining whether further investigation into this potential use of Neosporin is warranted. Akiko Iwasaki, an immunologist at Yale University and co-author of the research, emphasizes that it is a research study, not a clinical one, and is not intended to promote the daily use of Neosporin. It’s merely an initial pilot study to explore potential applications.

While Iwasaki was not aware of the early interest in nasal Neosporin during the pandemic, she and her colleagues are exploring novel uses for readily available products, including this popular ointment. Of particular interest is neomycin, one of the antibiotics in Neosporin, which belongs to the aminoglycoside compound group. Previous research in mice conducted in 2018 suggested that aminoglycosides could enhance resistance to various viruses.

When neomycin acts as an antibiotic against bacteria, it disrupts the microbe’s protein synthesis. However, in the case of fighting viruses, neomycin seems to stimulate the innate immune system. Unlike the adaptive immune system, which targets specific pathogens, the innate immune system recognizes and responds to foreign substances more broadly.

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