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Dongtak Lee, PhD

Job Title

Postdoc Research Fellow

Academic Rank

Fellow or Postdoc


Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine


Dongtak Lee

Principal Investigator

Nitin Joshi



Pathogen Capture and Neutralizing Nasal Spray to Prevent Respiratory Infections

Scientific Abstract

Respiratory pathogens pose a global health crisis associated with high mortality and socioeconomic burdens. The status quo of prophylaxis is immunization, which relies on host immune response to elicit antigen-specific neutralizing antibodies. However, vaccines are ineffective against emerging virus variants. Here, we report a non-immunization strategy to provide prophylactic protection by 1) capture of virus-laden respiratory droplets, 2) intercepting pathogen entry to nasal mucosa, and 3) rapid neutralization of pathogens. ‘Pathogen Capture and Neutralization Spray’ (PCANS) integrates the unique properties of polysaccharides, surfactants, and alcohols to leverage its multifaceted functions with excellent biocompatibility. PCANS demonstrates broad-spectrum neutralization of viruses and bacteria within a few minutes of exposure. Notably, the study provides insight into the electrostatic interaction of PCANS with receptor binding domains of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A as a critical attribute to virus neutralization. A single intranasal dose of PCANS confers prophylactic protection against a deadly strain of influenza infection in mice. Together, our drug-free nasal spray represents promising daily use prophylaxis to bestow protection as a stand-alone defense or in tandem with vaccines.

Lay Abstract

Respiratory diseases caused by harmful germs are a major global threat with high death rates. Current prevention mainly relies on vaccines, but they struggle against new germ variations. Our study introduces an innovative way to protect against these germs without using vaccines. Our ‘Pathogen Capture and Neutralization Spray’ (PCANS) works in three key ways: capturing germ-laden droplets, preventing germ entry into the nose, and rapidly neutralizing germs. PCANS combines special ingredients like polysaccharides, surfactants, and alcohols to achieve these tasks effectively. Tests showed PCANS can swiftly neutralize various germs, including viruses and bacteria, within minutes of exposure. Importantly, it can interact with virus parts like SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A to block their harmful effects. When tested on mice with a dangerous flu strain, just one PCANS spray protected them from illness. This drug-free nasal spray could offer daily protection alone or alongside vaccines, offering a promising way to combat respiratory illnesses and improve global health.

Clinical Implications

Respiratory diseases are a global threat with high death rates. Our non-vaccine solution, the ‘Pathogen Capture and Neutralization Spray’ (PCANS), quickly neutralizes germs and could complement vaccines for daily protection, countering deadly germs effectively.