Starpharma to sell COVID-fighting nose spray in UK

pharmafile | March 25, 2021 | News story | |  COVID-19 

Australian biotech company, Starpharma, has announced a deal with LloydsPharmacy to sell its COVID-fighting antiviral nasal spray, Viraleze, in the UK.  

The announcement follows Viraleze’s successful registration for sale in Europe on 23 February, and makes Starpharma the first ASX-listed biotech to bring a COVID-19 preventative product to a global retail market.

The antiviral nasal spray’s main component is astodrimer sodium (SPL7013), a large molecule that acts locally at the site of application with no systemic absorption, meaning it does not enter the bloodstream. Work began on the spray last year, based on the work Starpharma had already completed with SPL7013 in sexual health product technology, including their line of condoms.

SPL7013 has been proven to be virucidal, inactivating a broad spectrum of respiratory viruses, influenza viruses, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and other cold-causing coronaviruses in laboratory studies. In their research Starpharma have found Viraleze inactivates COVID-19 in under 60 seconds.

The virucidal element of the spray works by spike proteins, found on the surface of some respiratory viruses, becoming trapped by SPL7013 and then irreversibly blocked so the virus can no longer infect mucosal cells. These blocked viruses are then naturally eliminated through the nasal mucus.

The nasal cavity has been found to be the primary site where COVID-19 becomes established before it spreads to the lungs.

Unlike COVID-19 vaccines, Viraleze has not undergone large-scale human trials, instead being tested in laboratory experimentation. The product was then able to be launched rapidly as the active ingredients had already been reviewed and registered for use in Europe.

Jackie Fairley, Chief Executive of Starpharma, said to WA Today: “It’s been a pretty frenetic 12 months, and we’re delighted to have gotten to this point.

“Clearly this market [Britain] is a very large market – this is a broad-spectrum antiviral and it’s a product that has applications more broadly. The UK is currently locked down and will be emerging in a couple of weeks. This [deal] achieves a very high level of distribution through that market rapidly.”

The spray can be stored at room temperature, not requiring cold storage or specialised transportation. It should be used alongside vaccination, personal protective equipment (PPE) and good hygiene practices, along with physical distancing.

Kat Jenkins

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