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Starpharma Holdings Limited Announces VIRALEZE SPL7013 Highly Active in UK Variant of Coronavirus

05/31/2021 | 08:13pm
Starpharma announced new data confirming that SPL7013, the active in VIRALEZETM antiviral nasal spray, has potent antiviral activity against the UK (B.1.1.7) SARS-CoV-2 variant of concern (hCoV- 19/England/204820464/2020) in laboratory studies, achieving more than 98% reduction in infectious virus in antiviral assays. This antiviral testing of SPL7013 was conducted in the laboratory of virologist Professor Philippe Gallay at The Scripps Research Institute in the US. Previous studies at the same laboratory have demonstrated potent antiviral activity of SPL7013 against the US strain of SARS-CoV-2. 4 The level of activity of SPL7013 against this UK variant in the current assay was equivalent to that achieved by SPL7013 against the US strain of SARS-CoV-2 (2019-nCoV/USA- WA1/2020) in the same assay (i.e., >98% reduction in infectious virus vs virus control). This finding indicates that there is no loss of potency for SPL7013 against the UK variant compared with earlier strains of the virus. A key benefit of the product is its broad-spectrum activity, and retention of activity in multiple coronavirus variants. This is thought to be due to its mechanism of action, which is not reliant on specific binding sites within the spike protein. The active in VIRALEZETM acts by blocking the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 viral `spikes' and the human cells the virus is seeking to infect. This lack of reliance on specific binding sites within the spike protein could represent a key advantage for the breadth of activity of SPL7013 against multiple variants. The broad-spectrum antiviral activity of VIRALEZETM is a compelling feature for the product to be used alongside other prevention strategies and complementary to vaccines, particularly as health authorities respond to the emergence of new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus variants. The US CDC, European CDC, and health authorities in the UK and elsewhere currently identify a number of strains of SARS-CoV-2 that are classified as variants of concern or interest, including: UK (B.1.1.7); South Africa (B.1.351) Japan/Brazil (P.1); and India (B.1.617.2). These variants arise from mutation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the community and the names "UK", "South Africa" and "Japan/Brazil" represent where they were first isolated. They are classified as `variants of concern' due to certain attributes such as having a higher level of transmissibility, causing more severe disease (e.g., increased hospitalisations or deaths) and/or reduced effectiveness of current treatments or vaccines. Testing of SPL7013 against the Japan/Brazil and South Africa variants is also underway. The India (B.1.617.2) variant, which is currently linked to outbreaks in the UK and Australia, is planned to be tested when virus availability permits. With these latest data, SPL7013 has now been shown in laboratory studies to have potent antiviral activity against all four SARS-CoV-2 strains tested to date: UK (B.1.1.7) (hCoV-19/England/204820464/2020), USA (2019-nCoV/USA-WA1/2020), Europe (Slovakia/SK-BMC5/2020), and Australia (hCoV-19/Australia/VIC01/2020). Concerns have been reported regarding the first generation of vaccines and certain SARS- CoV-2 variants that may render those vaccines less effective (`vaccine escape') 5,6, and data from vaccination trials have shown variability in reducing transmission or preventing severe illness. Accordingly, protective measures such as mask wearing, social distancing, and good hygiene will continue to play an important role in combating the global pandemic. VIRALEZETM complements these other prevention strategies, including vaccines, and has special relevance where social distancing is not possible such as crowded environments like travel, sporting and social events. In May, Starpharma announced a partnership between VIRALEZETM and Harlequins, a professional rugby union team in the UK. Starpharma is also in discussion with multiple other sporting teams (including Olympic) interested in using the product to keep their players and athletes safe.
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