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Hope for new Scottish drug which shows promise in fight against Covid-19

The successful studies involved both treating infection and blocking new infections.

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Scientists are hoping to begin clinical testing after positive results in laboratory tests (David Davies/PA)

Scientists are hoping to begin clinical testing after positive results in laboratory tests (David Davies/PA)

Scientists are hoping to begin clinical testing after positive results in laboratory tests (David Davies/PA)

Scientists hope to begin clinical tests of a new anti-viral drug which has had positive results in laboratory tests against Covid-19.

Pneumagen, a University of St Andrews spin-out company, carried out three separate lab based studies into preventing coronavirus infections, including Sars-CoV-2 infection, the cause of Covid-19, using Neumifil and multivalent Carbohydrate Binding Modules (mCBMs) generated using its GlycoTarge technology.

The successful studies involved both treating infection and blocking new infections.

Working closely with Public Health England’s Porton facility and, separately, the University of Glasgow’s MRC Centre for Virus Research, Pneumagen tested the activity of its mCBMs against coronaviruses using plaque reduction tests.

At both Porton and the University of Glasgow, the mCBMs were found to reduce the number of Sars-CoV-2 plaques – visible structures in a sheet of cells – in these tests when the mCBMs were used in both prevention and treatment of infection.

Pneumagen now wants to begin clinical testing for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

Our goal is now to rapidly begin clinical testing for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19Douglas Thomson, Pneumagen

Its chief executive Douglas Thomson said: “Today’s positive results from in-vitro studies of our mCBMs against coronaviruses show that glycan binding has the potential to prevent and treat infection.

“This further supports the value of our universal therapeutic modality to block access to lung cells of Sars-CoV-2, as well as other viruses, that cause respiratory tract infections, providing the potential for a pan-viral respiratory product.

“Our goal is now to rapidly begin clinical testing for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.”

A glycan is a generic name for a carbohydrate complex, made up from connected carbohydrate, or sugar, molecules.

Cells are coated in glycans, as are the surfaces of many animal viruses such as SARS-CoV-2.

Neumifil, Pneumagen’s lead mCBM, is already being developed for the universal treatment of respiratory tract infections (RTIs) including Influenza Virus (IFV), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and now coronaviruses.

Scientists said Neumifil’s novel mechanism of action, masking glycan receptors in patients’ airways and thereby preventing the entry of the virus, has the potential to revolutionise the treatment of RTIs by providing clinicians with the opportunity to offer patients total protection against any circulating viral strain.

PA