Press Releases

SPRIND, the Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation, Funds Innovative Health Science Project at Freie Universität Berlin

Researchers have developed a new nasal spray that helps ward off viruses. A joint partnership project with the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP), the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI), the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research (Inserm), and PharmBioTec Research & Development GmbH

The Federal Agency for Disruptive Innovation (SPRIND) is funding the development of an antiviral nasal spray that will support the function of the nasal mucous membranes in protecting against viruses, in a project led by Freie Universität Berlin. On Sunday, November 7, 2021, the “MucBoost” team of researchers was awarded first prize in the competition “A Quantum Leap for New Antiviral Agents” during the Berlin Science Week. The team includes researchers Dr. Daniel Lauster of Freie Universität Berlin, who is the principal investigator of the MucBoost project, Professor Benedikt Kaufer and Dr. Jakob Trimpert (also from Freie Universität Berlin), Professor Christian Hackenberger (FMP), Professor Christian Sieben (HZI), Dr. Prisca Boisguerin (Inserm) from Montpellier, and Dr. Marius Hittinger (PharmBioTec). The research group is eligible for up to 1.7 million euros in funding over a three-year period. After the three-year period, it is likely that the group will receive additional funding for the period leading up to the antiviral strategy being launched on the commercial market.

The project has developed a new antiviral concept based on strengthening the natural mucus secreted by the mucous membranes in the respiratory tract, which has the function of protecting our airways from threatening substances. “Human mucous needs an upgrade,” says Lauster. “As time goes by, we are increasingly likely to be confronted with pathogens crossing over from animals. We need to stay ahead in the evolutionary game so that we are adequately armed against threatening, fast-mutating viruses.”

The project aims at creating biomimetic structures that increase the ability of nasal mucous to adsorb viruses. This makes it more difficult for the virus to infect the underlying cells in our respiratory tract. “We then swallow the virus, which is subsequently digested in the stomach,” Lauster explains.

During the first year of funding, Lauster will work together with Christian Hackenberger (FMP, Berlin), to create these biomimetic structures using chemical and biotechnological processes. The resulting products will then be tested in a high-security lab by Christian Sieben (HZI, Braunschweig) to assess their antiviral efficacy against coronaviruses, using a cell-based lung model.

The preliminary research for the grant application submitted to SPRIND received funding under the coronavirus pre-exploration project initiated by the Berlin University Alliance and led by Rainer Haag, and from the “MucPep” project financed by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) and led by Lauster.


Dr. Daniel Lauster
Institut für Chemie und Biochemie der Freien Universität Berlin
Telefon: 030 / 838-66286

Contacts at the FMP:

Prof. Dr. Christian Hackenberger
Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)
Leibniz-Humboldt-Professur für Chemische Biologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Phone +49 (0)30 / 94793 - 181
Twitter: @PhosphorusFive


Public Relations
Silke Oßwald
Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP)
13125 Berlin, Campus Berlin-Buch
E-Mail: osswald(at)

Informationen über die Förderentscheidung




Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie im Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V. (FMP)
Campus Berlin-Buch
Robert-Roessle-Str. 10
13125 Berlin, Germany
+4930 94793 - 100 
+4930 94793 - 109 (Fax)

Like many sites, we use cookies to optimize the user's browsing experience. Data Protection OK