Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) respiratory researchers from the University of Newcastle (UoN) have played an integral role in developing a new preventative nasal spray treatment by Australian bio tech company, Ena Respiratory.
The treatment, INNA-051, boost the natural human immune system to fight common colds and flu in the nose and throat to prevent severe lung disease.
It has proved remarkably successful also in reducing COVID-19 viral replication.
Research published in the biomedical pre-publication research site, medRxiv, shows it reduced viral replication and shedding in the nose and throat by up to 96 per cent in a gold-standard COVID-19 animal study led by Public Health England’s (PHE) Deputy Director, Professor Miles Carroll.
Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett from UoN, and head of HMRI’s Viral Immunology and Respiratory Disease group, is one of the Ena Respiratory’s key advisors and research collaborators.
“We were researching INNA-051 prior to COVID-19 and discovered that it is very effective at priming the airways to more rapidly and effectively respond to a viral infection,” Nathan said.
“The proof of concept data generated by HMRI’s team was instrumental in ensuring the treatment was ideally placed to be tested against the virus that causes COVID-19.”
The INNA-051 compound works by stimulating the innate immune system, the first line of defence against viruses.
If successful in clinical trials, INNA-051 will complement the protection provided byvaccines, particularly in groups in which a vaccine is likely to be less effective such as the elderly and those with chronic lung disease.
Subject to successful toxicity studies and regulatory approval, Ena Respiratory could be ready to test INNA-051 in human trials in less than four months.
The company says it will be a self-administered nasal spray that is easy to manufacture and will be widely available.
The company is seeking additional funding to accelerate the nasal spray’s clinical development and global distribution.
Director of HMRI, Professor Tom Walley, said this project is another demonstration of how HMRI researchers are involved in leading international, translational research into treatments that improve people’s wellbeing and save lives.
Tom said HMRI provided seed-funding to Associate Professor Bartlett to support his research into COVID-19.
“HMRI’s partnerships with local and other Australian businesses are vital in helping HMRI to be a global leader in research that benefits the local community and the economy,” he said.
“HMRI is a partnership between the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community, which includes the business community.”
IMAGE | University of Newcastle and HMRI Researcher, Nathan Bartlett, are working with businesses to develop a preventative nasal spray that could prove effective in protecting people against COVID-19. Photo credit: Brad Foot.