UK biotech and University of Birmingham in licensing deal for nasal spray targeting COVID-19

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/PashaIgnatov
© GettyImages/PashaIgnatov

Related tags: Nasal spray, patents, COVID-19, viruses

Birmingham Biotech and the University of Birmingham have signed a licensing agreement for an anti-viral nasal spray against COVID-19.

A developer of diagnostic tests, protective nasal sprays and mobile medical facilities, Birmingham Biotech Ltd has entered into a partnership with that university to commercialize the product.

The formulation was engineered by Professor Liam Grover, from the university’s Healthcare Technologies Institute, and a team of researchers who also collaborated on its testing.

“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,”​ said Prof. Grover.

Michael Hsu, MD of Birmingham Biotech, said the partners are focused on bringing the nasal spray to as many people as possible at an affordable price; they are focusing on developing markets in particular.

The anti-COVID-19 nasal spray is expected to be available in the UK and Asia in early 2022.

Virus deactivation

It is designed to work by encapsulating and deactivating the virus while it is still in the nose, preventing its wider uptake by the body. It is formulated with two compounds that are already approved by regulatory bodies in the UK, Europe and the US, and widely used in medical devices, medicines, and food products, said the parties.

“Each of these compounds performs a specific function. The first is a polysaccharide gel which can ‘plume’ rather than ‘jet spray’ when applied with a typical nasal spray applicator. It is retained on the mucous-coated epithelia in the nose where it coats and retains the virus, so it does not travel further down the respiratory tract. The second compound is a potent antiviral agent: carrageenan.”

The Birmingham researchers confirmed ​the complete inhibition of SARS-CoV-2 activity provided by carrageenan and the ability of the formulation to prevent contraction and transmission in cell culture. They also confirmed that the spray covers a surface area that is six times greater than when formulated without the gel.

The licensing agreement covers the entire duration of the patents and gives Birmingham Biotech exclusive rights to market and sell the anti-viral nasal spray worldwide, except for India.

Aside from this deal, Birmingham Biotech plans to establish a joint venture with the university to commercialize new products based on IP and technical knowledge from that academic institution.

The partners said they also are looking to co-develop other innovative products and technologies, such as COVID-19 throat sprays and nasal sprays targeted to protect individuals from other viruses. 

Related topics: Markets & Regulations, Pipelines, COVID-19

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