Starpharma: Nasal spray 'virucidal' against COVID-19 virus

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Starpharma (ASX:SPL) says laboratory testing of its antiviral SPL7013 against COVID-19 has confirmed it is more than 99.9 per cent effective against the virus.

The studies were conducted in the laboratory of internationally recognised virology researcher, Professor Philippe Gallay, at the US-based Scripps Research Institute.

Starpharma said the new data expand on that previously announced that showed SPL7013 has potent antiviral activity and inhibits infection of host cells by COVID-19 when it is applied to the cells either before or after exposure to the virus.

“We are delighted to be working with Professor Gallay to expedite the development of this important product," said CEO Dr Jackie Fairley.

"These latest data show that at clinically relevant concentrations (at the concentration of the SPL7013 COVID-19 nasal spray), SPL7013 inactivates more than 99.9% of SARS-CoV-2, which represents a compelling feature for the product. This potent virucidal action is consistent with the activity seen for SPL7013 in other viruses, including HIV and HSV.”

Professor Gallay said, “We have been working with Starpharma for a number of months now and are impressed with the antiviral data generated in our lab for SPL7013 against SARS-CoV-2. It is particularly exciting to see a product show such a potent and clear virucidal effect against this highly infectious virus, and for its antiviral activity to be present when SPL7013 is added either before or after exposure of cells to the virus.”

Dr Fairley added, “Starpharma’s COVID-19 nasal spray has potential to be an important near-term preventative product, and given it is based on an already marketed active, its path to market is both faster and less complex than a completely new product.

"Another attractive feature of Starpharma’s SPL7013 COVID-19 nasal spray is that it is entirely complementary to other prevention measures such as PPE and vaccines. It also has special relevance where social distancing is not possible such as crowded environments and certain workplaces.

"The importance of having multiple preventative product strategies has been highlighted by the recent challenges with some vaccine trials. Starpharma’s topical antiviral nasal spray could play a role both prior to vaccines being available, and complementary to vaccines once available to further reduce risk.”

Starpharma said it is expediting the development of the SPL7013 nasal spray and has already completed reformulation, pilot product manufacture, selection of device and packaging components, identification of a manufacturer and compiled regulatory documentation in preparation for submission.

It said it has also commenced commercial discussions across a range of distribution channels and customer groups and expects that the product will be ready for market in the first half of calendar year 2021.