SYDNEY – Australian respiratory scientists are ready to go forward with the development of a nasal spray to protect patients from viral illnesses including COVID-19 and influenza.
Scientists from the Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) and the University of Newcastle (UON) in New South Wales said on Thursday that they had been collaborating with biotech startup Ena Respiratory to develop the spray, INNA-051.
The spray was shown to enhance the body’s immune systems in pre-clinical tests in Sydney, which is the first line of defence against viruses that cause the common cold and flu in the nose and throat, as well as serious lung illness.
“We found that INNA-051 is highly efficient in priming the airways to respond to a viral infection more quickly and effectively,” stated UON Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett.
Researchers will undertake a trial across multiple nations in the following two rounds of the spray’s development, which will begin in January, to see if INNA-051 decreases the incidence of COVID-19 among persons aged 18 to 55 who have had close contact with those who have tested positive for the illness.
They will also assess the safety and effectiveness of INNA-051 therapy before exposure in decreasing influenza virus load in experimentally infected adult volunteers.
The researchers believe that the spray might eventually be used in conjunction with vaccinations, especially in cases when a vaccine is unlikely to be successful, such as in elderly patients or individuals with chronic lung illnesses.
Mike Calford, HMRI’s director, said it was thrilling to see the institute’s research “moving from the lab to the patients.”
Calford stated, “HMRI researchers continue to be at the forefront of translational research towards therapies that improve people’s well-being and save lives.”
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