SAARBRÜCKEN / VIENNA, 17-Feb-2021 — /EPR BIOTECH NEWS/ — In the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a large number of pharmaceutical companies are looking for new approaches to combat the pandemic. In addition to vaccines, intensive research and development efforts around the world are focusing on identifying new anti-COVID therapeutics that includes re-evaluation of existing product portfolios with a view to re-purpose drugs that have antiviral properties.
With this goal in mind, URSAPHARM Arzneimittel GmbH, based in Saarbrücken, and the Vienna-based biotech company CEBINA GmbH (Central European Biotech Incubator and Accelerator) are collaborating to repurpose the antihistamine drug azelastine hydrochloride as a potential anti-SARS-CoV-2 therapeutic. Azelastine has been successfully used for many years in anti-allergic therapy.
Starting with a novel computational drug repurposing prediction method, developed and performed by Prof Dr Robert Konrat (University of Vienna), CEBINA selected already approved active substances for experimental testing in collaboration with Prof Dr. Ferenc Jakab (Virology National Laboratory, Szentágothai-Research-Center, University of Pécs, Hungary). This collaborative effort led to the identification of azelastine as a potent antiviral compound effective against SARS-CoV-2, a finding confirmed by now by several independent research groups. The potent anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity of azelastine was demonstrated in a reconstituted human nasal tissue model and was evident at a lower dose than present in commercially available nasal sprays .
A clinical trial has started on February 16th 2021 to verify whether the use of a nasal spray preparation containing azelastine can achieve a reduction in viral load in the the nasal cavity. The aim of the study is to show whether the anti-allergic medication Pollival® Nasal Spray, or a diluted version, can achieve a reduction in the viral load, therefore reducing transmission and positively influencing the course of the disease.
If positive results of the running clinical studies are demonstrated, URSAPHARM Arzneimittel GmbH and CEBINA GmbH believe this will be an important new approach to control viral spread and contain the current pandemic.