Australian researchers are set to begin human trials for a type of cancer drug to treat Covid-19, with the hopes of stopping the virus in its tracks before it leaves the nose and throat. Also Read - COVID-19 Virus Uses Decoy Strategy to Evade Immune System
The drug, called BromAc, is administered directly as a nasal spray and could potentially stop the virus from spreading to other areas including the lungs, where it can cause deadly complications. Also Read - Sharad Pawar Tests COVID-Negative, Goes in Isolation
Lead developer, Professor David Morris told Xinhua news agency on Monday that the drug works by dissolving spike proteins on the surface of Covid-19 and making it unable to bond to cells.
“(Covid-19) uses that spike protein to lock with a receptor in our cells — and so no spike protein, no infection,” Morris said.
BromAc has already succeeded to render Covid-19 unable to infect cells in a laboratory setting, with plans now to undertake human trials within two to three weeks in the Australian city of Melbourne, the capital of the worst-hit state of Victoria.
Tests will be conducted on Covid-19 positive patients and the team hopes to see the virus disappear within days.
“We think it will get rid of Covid-19 all together in an infected patient. We also believe it will stop it from spreading to other people because if you remove the spike protein from the virus, then it’s not able to infect anyone else either,” he said.
Morris said he would also like to conduct testing on the drug as a preventative in high-risk groups such as frontline health workers.
According to its developers, BromAc is entirely safe and has been used in cancer patients at 100 times the dosage being recommended for Covid-19 and Morris himself has used the drug over an extended period to prove that it has no ill-effects.
With over a decade of development in the treatment of cancer patients, BromAc has the added advantage of being ready to manufacture within Australia.
Morris hopes that should human trials prove successful, large batches could quickly be rolled out across Australia and then internationally.
“I think that all approaches to Covid-19 at the moment are relevant internationally. It’s clearly a huge problem in the world,” he said.
“And if we had something that was able to interrupt the progress of this disease, that would be useful.”
As of Monday, Australia has reported a total of 23,288 coronavirus cases, with 396 deaths.