Listed pharmaceutical company Starpharma (ASX: SPL) has today doubled down on its anti-COVID nasal spray VIRALEZE, claiming lab tests done in the US show the product can help reduce the spread of the Delta strain of the virus.
"We are very pleased to confirm the rapid virucidal activity of SPL7013, with greater than 99.99 per cent reduction of infectious virus in just 30 seconds against the Delta variant," says Starpharma CEO Dr Jackie Fairley.
"SPL7013, the active [agent] in VIRALEZE, has a deep pedigree as an antiviral compound with consistent and compelling broad-spectrum activity against multiple respiratory viruses and now multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2."
The Delta strain, which is fast becoming the dominant variant of COVID-19 globally, is regarded as the most transmissible strain of the virus and has spread to at least 102 countries worldwide.
Professor Philippe Gallay who oversaw the study at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, mantains Starpharma's agent is effective against all other strains of concern.
"It is remarkable that SPL7013 has demonstrated potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity against the broad-spectrum of Variants of Concern, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and now importantly Delta, and Variant of Interest, Kappa, in vitro," he says.
The study claimed efficacy rates of greater than 99 per cent for each of those strains and also suggested the spray inactivates other viruses including influenza, RSV, SARS, and MERS.
News of the test results comes just one month after VIRALEZE was pulled from shelves in the UK. Late last month, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) raised a red flag over promotional claims made by the company.
At the time though, Starpharma pointed out the freeze did not imply concerns over the product's efficacy.
"The MHRA correspondence does not question or relate to the safety or quality of VIRALEZE, but relates to allowable promotional claims," the company said.
"While Starpharma disagrees with the MHRA's position, Starpharma and LloydsPharmacy have agreed to temporarily pause sales of VIRALEZE in the UK during this time."
The partnership with LloydsPharmacy saw the antiviral spray stocked at around 1,400 stores across the country. However, after the pause on sales in Britain, VIRALEZE is now limited to markets in Europe and India.
While the product is not currently available in Australia, Starpharma was in September awarded $1 million by the Australian Government's Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) to fund research into VIRALEZE.
Shares in SPL hit a record high of $2.36 in February after the spray was approved for sale in the UK and Europe.
Today, they rallied 7.94 per cent to $1.36 at 01.14pm AEST.
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