Australian biotech Ena Respiratory on Monday announced that a nasal spray originally developed to boost the immune system against the common cold and flu may also be effective in the fight against COVID-19.
The product, called INNA-051, was able to “significantly reduce COVID-19 virus levels in the nose and throat,” per a company release, and dropped viral replication by 96% in ferrets, through a study by Public Health England.
The compound was said to work by stimulating the immune system prior to infection. Company officials theorized a similar response in humans could stifle COVID-19 to its more mild symptoms. Human trials may be less than four months away, per the release, but await toxicity studies and regulatory approval.
If effective, the nasal spray is intended to be complementary to the eventual vaccine; “self-administered via an easy-to-use nasal spray, taken once or twice a week, with the treatment taking almost immediate effect,” per the release.
Ena Respiratory said the spray was under development before the COVID-19 pandemic took place, with an initial focus against influenza, however, officials have since redirected the effort to fight COVID-19. The company has raised AU$11.7 from Australian investors.
“INNA-051 utilizes the non-specific innate immune response, meaning it is effective against a broad spectrum of viruses,” Dr. Chris Smith, board director of Ena Respiratory and senior investment manager at Brandon Capital, said in the release.