Vitamin A nasal spray being trialled for COVID smell loss

pharmafile | September 29, 2021 | News story | Research and Development  

The University of East Anglia is conducting a 12-week trial to investigate the use of vitamin A nasal spray to treat the loss of smell often experienced following COVID-19 infection.

The Apollo trial, which has been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), hopes to restore people’s sense of smell after viral infections, including COVID-19.

Smell loss is a common symptom of COVID-19, but even before COVID, many viruses had been causing smell loss and distortion and while most people naturally regain their sense of smell within a couple of weeks, many have been left with on-going smell disorders.

Previous research from Germany has shown the potential benefit of Vitamin A, and the UEA team will explore how this treatment works to help repair tissues in the nose damaged by viruses.

Only some of the volunteer patients will receive the treatment but all will be asked to sniff powerful odours such as rotten eggs and roses, and brain scans will check if the vitamin has repaired injured olfactory pathways or “smell nerves”.

Lead researcher Prof Carl Philpott, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School and James Paget University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We want to find out whether there is an increase in the size and activity of damaged smell pathways in patients’ brains when they are treated with vitamin-A nasal drops.

“We will look for changes in the size of the olfactory bulb – an area above the nose where the smell nerves join together and connect to the brain.

“We will also look at activity in areas of the brain linked to recognising smells.”

Kat Jenkins

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