The University of Birmingham has signed a licensing agreement with Birmingham Biotech Ltd to commercialise an anti-viral COVID nasal spray that can offer protection to users.
COVID-19 is contracted and transmitted by inhalation of droplets or aerosols containing the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the nose is the major viral entry point into the body; therefore, an anti-viral COVID nasal spray could be the ideal solution to reduce person-to-person transmission.
Professor Liam Grover from the University of Birmingham’s Healthcare Technologies Institute and the research team collaborated to engineer the formulation and complete testing. Professor Grover commented: “As COVID-19 restrictions around the world are gradually lifting, there is a real need for effective methods of viral protection. While existing measures like wearing masks and handwashing remain essential, this nasal spray provides an additional protective measure with the potential to reduce transmission. We are thrilled to be working with Birmingham Biotech to bring the anti-viral nasal spray to individuals around the world.”
The anti-viral COVID nasal spray deactivates the virus
The COVID nasal spray is designed to work by encapsulating and deactivating the virus whilst it remains in the nose, preventing its wider uptake by the rest of the body. The two compounds within the formulation are already approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe, and the US and are widely used in medical devices, medicines, and food products.
These compounds perform certain functions, with the first being a polysaccharide gel. This means that the typical nasal spray applicator is a ‘plume’ rather than ‘jet spray’ and retains the virus in the mucous-coated epithelia in the nose, so it does not travel further down the respiratory tract. The second compound is a potent anti-viral agent called carrageenan.
The Birmingham researchers confirmed the complete inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 activity provided by carrageenan. The formulation could prevent contraction and transmission in cell culture with the spray covering a surface area six times greater than when formulated without polysaccharide gel.
The future of treating COVID-19
The licensing agreement gives Birmingham Biotech exclusive rights to market and sell the anti-viral COVID nasal spray worldwide, except for India. It also covered the entire duration of the patents. Additionally, Birmingham Biotech plans to establish a joint venture with the University of Birmingham to further commercialise new products, using the university’s breadth of technical knowledge and intellectual property.
Looking towards the future, the two parties plan to co-develop other innovative products and technologies to prevent viral infections, such as a COVID-19 throat spray and nasal sprays specifically targeted to protect individuals from other viral infections. The COVID nasal spray is expected to be available in the UK and Asia in early 2022, presenting alternative preventive measures for the public.
Michael Hsu, Managing Director at Birmingham Biotech, commented: “We are delighted to enter into a partnership with the University of Birmingham and to be able to work together with its world-leading academic researchers to advance medical innovations. We have a shared commitment to bring our proprietary anti-COVID-19 nasal spray to as many people as possible at an affordable price, focusing on developing markets with the greatest need.”