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28 Sep 2020

New preventative nasal spray treatment could protect from COVID-19 infection

Novel therapy developed by Australian biotech company, Ena Respiratory, shown to significantly reduce COVID-19 virus levels in the nose and throat.

Test results have revealed that a novel nasal treatment developed to boost the natural human immune system to fight common colds and flu has proved remarkably successful in reducing COVID-19 viral replication.

The novel product, INNA-051, being developed by Australian biotech company, Ena Respiratory, reduced viral replication by up to 96% in a gold-standard animal study led by Public Health England's (PHE) Deputy Director, Professor Miles Carroll.

The INNA-051 compound works by stimulating the innate immune system, the first line of defence against the invasion of pathogens into the body.

The PHE study showed that by boosting the immune response in this way with INNA-051 prior to infection, the ability of the COVID-19 virus to infect the animals and replicate was dramatically reduced.

The study provides evidence that INNA-051 can be used as a stand-alone method of antiviral preventative therapy, complementary to vaccine programs.

The company has been "amazed" with how effective the treatment has been in tests using ferrets, which saw a "rapid eradication of the virus".

Ena Respiratory Managing Director, Dr Christophe Demaison, said: "If humans respond in a similar way, the benefits of treatment are two-fold. Individuals exposed to the virus would most likely rapidly eliminate it, with the treatment ensuring that the disease does not progress beyond mild symptoms. In addition, the rapidity of this response means that the infected individuals are unlikely to pass it on, meaning a swift halt to community transmission."

The company has raised AU$11.7m from Australian investors and, subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval, the company could be ready to test INNA-051 in human trials in less than 4 months.

INNA-051 is a synthetic small molecule and would be self-administered via an easy-to-use nasal spray, taken once or twice a week, with the treatment taking almost immediate effect. If human trials are successful and, given the unprecedented need for drugs to combat COVID-19, this prophylactic immune modulation therapy could be rapidly manufactured at scale and be available for use soon.

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