Antiviral nasal spray said to inactivate coronavirus in 1 minute
Viraleze, available over the counter in Europe and the United Kingdom starting this month, is more than 99% effective in stopping the coronavirus, says Australian pharmaceutical company Starpharma Holdings Ltd., citing in-vitro studies paid for in part by the Australian government.
But the spray is meant to supplement COVID-19 vaccines, masks and other protective measures, not replace them, Starpharma says.
“If you are about to walk into the supermarket, you would use it,” says Starpharma Chief Executive Officer Jackie Fairley. “The same is true for public transport, elevators, planes, bars and restaurants.”
The spray is not absorbed into the bloodstream, she adds.
It can be stored at room temperature and requires no specialized transportation, the Melbourne company says.
Viraleze’s active ingredient is known as SPL7013, or astodrimer sodium.
When Viraleze is sprayed into the nose, the SPL7013 in it works by trapping “spike” proteins protruding from the surface of the coronavirus.
The nasal cavity is the main place where the coronavirus typically establishes itself before spreading to the lungs. The spike proteins, which look like a crown protruding from the outer edge of the virus, give coronaviruses their name.
Once the SPL7013 traps the proteins, “the virus is irreversibly blocked and can no longer infect mucosal cells, thereby providing a physical barrier to respiratory viruses in the nasal cavity,” Starpharma says in a statement.
The blocked coronavirus is then “eliminated naturally through the nasal mucus,” Starpharma says.
Without protection, the coronavirus spike proteins latch onto human cells, then change their physical structure to let the viral membrane fuse with the cell membrane. The coronavirus genes then enter the host cells and are copied, producing more viruses.
“SPL7013 has been shown to be virucidal, rapidly inactivating >99.9% of SARS-CoV-2 within 60 seconds,” Starpharma says. “SARS-CoV-2” is the formal name of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
The company did not say if SPL7013 was found to work equally well with coronavirus variants. Some new variants are more transmissible than the original and may be more infectious, studies indicate. They may also be less susceptible to some vaccines than the original coronavirus.
SPL7013 has broad antiviral action and Starpharma says it is also studying the possibility of using SPL7013 to help prevent the spread of HIV, the human papillomavirus and herpes viruses.
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