The first UK clinical trials of a nasal spray proven to kill 99.9 per cent of the coronavirus are set to begin on Monday.
The SaNOtize Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray (NONS) is designed to kill the virus in the upper airways of the nose, preventing it from incubating and spreading to the lungs.
The i newsletter latest news and analysis
Developed by SaNOtize Research and Development Corp. based in Vancouver, Canada, scientists have found that when produced naturally by the human body, nitric oxide is effective in resisting viral infection.
“The SaNOtize treatment should be thought of as an effective treatment for the upper airways, similar to when people use hand sanitisers to clean their hands,” said Rob Wilson, a former Conservative MP overseeing the UK trial for SaNOtize.
Scientists believe the coronavirus is transmitted via airborne droplets to the mucous membranes in the nose, where it is replicated during a three-day incubation period, damaging the nasal mucosa cells, and is then passed to the lower respiratory tract.
Virus is ‘a progression’
Dr Chris Miller, chief science officer and co-founder of SaNOtize, described the progressive nature of the virus.
“Everybody just thinks you get the virus, and it gets into your lungs, and you die, but it’s a progression,” he said.
“First you get exposed to it, and the virus tries to attach to the cells in your nose, and it takes a while to incubate, and multiply in nasal cells for a few days and then the virus will shed into your lungs.”
Using the nasal spray at various points throughout the day works to cleanse this vital upper respiratory area.
As infection rates continue to soar throughout the UK, Mr Wilson added that “this simple treatment will assist us in resuming something approaching normal social life…even if we inhale the virus, we can both protect against it and destroy it by applying the solution on a regular basis”.
The trial will be run by Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey.
Pankaj Sharma, Professor of Neurology and Director of the Institute of Cardiovascular Research at Royal Holloway, University of London, said: “Any intervention for treating coronavirus – the virus responsible for Covid-19 – is to be welcomed.
“The fact that a relatively easy and simple nasal spray could be an effective treatment is welcome news and offers a significant advance in our therapeutic armoury against this devastating disease.
“Ashford and St Peters Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is proud to be at the forefront of trialling this intervention,” he said.
A further 508 people who tested positive for coronavirus have died in hospital in England, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths reported in hospitals to 55,580, NHS England said on Sunday.