Scientists at Columbia University have developed a nasal spray that has proven successful in preventing ferrets from getting infected with COVID-19 during tests and a 3D model of human lungs.

In a report by the New York Times, it said that animals that have been administered with the nasal spray are protected from the virus for a full day. Researchers are also examining the compound on humans to determine its effectiveness on them as well.

The clinical trials, which were conducted exclusively on ferrets and has yet to peer-reviewed, was evaluated by several health experts at the request of the New York Times.

A multi-institutional research group composed of scientists from Cornell University, Erasmus Medical Center in the Netherlands, and Columbia University developed a molecule called a lipopeptide to act as a shield against coronavirus spike proteins that attach to respiratory cells. Without access to cells, the coronavirus's ability to duplicate itself is neutralized.

The investigators created a nasal spray that contains these lipopeptides -- cholesterol molecules connected to amino acids -- as a means to protect against COVID-19 infections. Lipopeptides are also affordable, has a long shelf life, and does not require refrigeration.

The scientists used the spray on six ferrets, which were then divided into three pairs, with each animal placed in a different cage. A placebo spray was administered to two ferrets for each cage. Then the scientists brought inside the cage an animal infected with the virus. The ferrets lived together for one day, and then they were tested.

None of the animals that were given spray was infected. The ferrets that were given a placebo all got sick. The researchers concluded that virus duplication was totally blocked.

If the nasal treatment, which researchers described as stable and non-toxic, is proved to be effective on human subjects, it may provide a new method of containing the virus.

According to Dr. Arturo Casadevall, chairman of immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, "having something new that works against the coronavirus is exciting," the New York Times quoted him as saying. "I could imagine this being part of the whole arsenal."

While the study was limited in scope, the work that was put on the research is very promising. The active lipopeptide material is easy to make and can be preserved and freeze-dried in powder form. Researchers said they are looking to accelerate further trials.