Promising lab tests

Fife firm’s nasal spray could hold key to Covid-19

Scientists say drug could be administered by nasal spray

A spin-out company in Fife may have developed an antiviral drug that can block the coronavirus getting into the lungs. 

Neumifil, used as a nasal spray to treat flu, could play a big part in tackling the deadly Covid-19 pandemic, say scientists.

Public health officials are monitoring lab tests of Neumifil created by Pneumagen, a spin-off company focused on new treatments for infectious diseases and cancer at the University of St Andrews.

Neumifil works by blocking the coronavirus’s interaction with structures called ACE-2 receptors in the airways, which are the virus’s doorway into the body. Mailonline reports that these receptors are a big point of focus for scientists trying to stop the disease.

There is speculation that nicotine may reduce numbers of the receptors. and some suggest they could be a reason that smokers appear to have lower rates of serious illness when infected with COVID-19.

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Some scientists have suggested that smoking cigarettes may actually protect people against the coronavirus by altering levels of ACE-2.

Lead researcher Gary Taylor, professor of biology at St Andrews, told MailOnline: ‘Classic antivirals actually attack some part of the virus’s machinery, whereas our drug actually inhibits the virus from even getting into cells. 

“We envision it being given as a nasal spray, and imagine it being given weekly or every other day.”

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