British nasal spray, inhaler could prevent COVID-19 from invading human cells: experts


Published: 2021-04-13 18:02

Last Updated: 2021-05-07 20:21

British nasal spray, inhaler could prevent COVID-19 from invading human cells: experts
British nasal spray, inhaler could prevent COVID-19 from invading human cells: experts

Monday, a British biotech company announced that it is moving towards Phase II in their clinical trials of a range of treatments to tackle coronavirus infections.

The company, Halo Therapeutics, comprises of scientists and experts from the University of Bristol in England, and is launching a bid to start a clinical trial for a nasal spray treatment for the coronavirus.

Halo Therapeutics intends to commercialize their discovery of a molecule which their experts research claim changes the shape of the COVID-19 virus's spike protein, preventing it from entering cells.

Halo Therapeutics said their initial research indicated that the treatment should work against all known COVID-19 mutations, including the British, South African, and Brazilian variants.

Initial research by the experts found that a fatty acid, linoleic acid, can effectively make the spike protein 'non-infective'.

Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It is a colorless or white oil that is virtually insoluble in water but soluble in many organic solvents. 

This acid is naturally occurring in the body, but it is not produced internally, instead being absorbed through food consumption.

The experts found that when Linoleic acid is supplemented along with 'Remdesivir', a broad-spectrum antiviral medication, the acid was able to supress coronavirus replication. The news was published in 'Science Magazine' November 2020.

Halo Therapeutics aims to run multiple second phase trials to test treatments, which include a nasal spray and an inhaler.

The Director of the Max Planck-Bristol Center for Minimal Biology, Imre Berger said, "The aim of our treatment is to significantly reduce the amount of virus that enters the body and to stop it from multiplying.

Even if people are infected or exposed to COVID-19, they will not become sick due to the antiviral properties in the treatment which stops the spread of the virus to other organs such as the lungs, added Berger.

A Professor from Bristol University's school of biochemistry, Christiane Berger-Schaffitzel, stated that the aim is to stop COVID-19 infections when individuals show early symptoms so that they would be able to quickly self-medicate at home to stop COVID-19 in its tracks.

A professor from Bristol Medical School, Adam Finn, also expressed concerns of the issues with vaccines. He was worried that vaccine effects may waver as the virus mutates.

"As the virus mutates there is a real risk that presently available vaccines diminish in their productive effect and people could develop the disease again." 

Therefore, he added, there is a requirement for readily available and cost efficient treatments that can work on all virus mutations while complimenting vaccine efforts.