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Covid-19: Anti-coronavirus nasal spray, Neumifil, in works in UK

The UK-based company Pneumagen says it is developing a drug that could be effective in blocking the coronavirus' pathway into the lungs.

A lab technician visually inspects a filled vial of investigational coronavirus disease (COVID-19) treatment drug remdesivir at a Gilead Sciences facility in La Verne, California, U.S. March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020. Gilead Sciences Inc/Hand

Scientists at the St Andrews University-linked company Pneumagen say an antiviral drug they are developing could be an effective remedy against Covid-19.

Drug masks airway receptors to block coronavirus' entry into lungs

Originally created for use in treating respiratory-tract infections such as flu, the drug - called Neumifil - works by masking glycan receptors in a person's airways and blocking the coronavirus’ path into the lungs.

Glycan receptors are located on the surface of lung cells. When someone contracts a viral infection, a key initial step in this process comes when the virus latches onto cell-surface receptors.

Neumifil: nasal spray used "weekly or every other day"

Classic antivirals actually attack some part of the virus’ machinery, whereas our drug actually inhibits the virus from even getting into cells,” said Gary Taylor, the lead researcher and a professor of biology at St Andrews University, in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“We envision it being given as a nasal spray, and imagine it being given weekly or every other day.”

Pneumagen CEO: "Our goal is now to rapidly begin clinical testing"

“Today’s positive results from in vitro studies […] against coronaviruses show that glycan binding has the potential to prevent and treat infection,” said Douglas Thomson, the CEO of Pneumagen.

He added: “Our goal is now to rapidly begin clinical testing for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.”

Clinical trials could last for several months before the drug is approved by healthcare authorities, but this is without doubt a positive development in the battle against the coronavirus.


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