Trial funded for nasal spray aimed at preventing respiratory infections in older people

A pan-antiviral nasal spray developed to prevent respiratory viral infections  like COVID-19, influenza and the common cold will be trialled in aged-care residents after receiving AUD$3.88 million from the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund.

‘Pan-antiviral’ means it works against all respiratory viruses from SARS-CoV-2 to rhinoviruses that cause the common cold and Syncytial Respiratory Virus.

The University of Melbourne, the Northern Health COVID Community Response Network   and ENA Respiratory Pty Ltd aim to establish the safety, tolerability and efficacy   of INNA-051, a self-administered nasal spray developed by ENA Respirator y , in older people living in aged-care facilities across Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

Based on discoveries by University of Melbourne Professor David Jackson’s team at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, ENA Respiratory’s INNA-051 nasal spray is designed to stimulate innate immunity in the nose (where most respiratory infections start), to respond more quickly to viruses and eliminate them before they spread throughout the body.

Led by Head of the Northern Health COVID Community Response Network, Professor Don Campbell and Head of the University of Melbourne’s Lung Health Research Centre, Professor Gary Anderson, the project is based on  pre-clinical studies   where INNA-051 was shown to have efficacy against respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2 influenza and rhinovirus, responsible for the common cold.

Importantly, INNA-051 has also been shown to retain its antiviral efficacy in older animal models, challenged with seasonal flu.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our most vulnerable groups, at the same time common respiratory viruses like influenza are returning. There is pressing need for new treatments that boost immunity and reduce the risk of complications,” Professor Anderson said.

“This important study will help establish the ability of this new approach  to protect older people who are amongst the most vulnerable in the community. The long duration of INNA-051 means that patients may only need to take the medicine once or twice weekly to be protected from a broad range of threatening viruses.”

“Additionally, residents of aged care facilities are at risk of severe complications associated with re-emerging influenza and respiratory syncytial virus infections, creating urgency to find new treatments that can complement vaccines and help reduce this burden.”

Professor Campbell said INNA-051, which is designed to boost immunity at the site of infection, could strengthen the body’s defence and reduce the risk of serious complications like pneumonia.

“This funding will help progress this important drug to the next stage of development, by trialling how well it protects older people in residential aged care, where it is needed most  ,” Professor Campbell said.

It has also been found to be well-tolerated in a study involving healthy volunteers aged 19 to 80 years of age with efficacy against seasonal influenza currently being assessed with results expected later this year   .

ENA Respiratory CEO, Dr Christophe Demaison explains: “Studies underway are assessing INNA-051 efficacy in younger adults, and this trial will extend our evidence to elderly individuals who are often most at risk of complications from common respiratory infections. We look forward to working with the teams from the University of Melbourne and Northern Health COVID response network to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of INNA-051 in this population as we work to add another treatment option that complements vaccines.”

The research team includes Francesca Mercuri and Grant McLachlan (ENA Respiratory),  University of Melbourne Professor Paul Monagle (Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne and Sydney Children’s Hospital), Professor Michelle McIntosh PhD (Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences), Associate Professor Nathan Bartlett (University of Newcastle), Dr Nic West (UNSW) and Dr Penny Harvey and Dr Zi Lo from the Northern Hospital.

ENA Respiratory  is aiming to transform the prevention of respiratory viral infections in populations at risk of complications. The company is based in Melbourne and Sydney, Australia. It has previously secured Series A funding from Brandon Capital Partners’ managed funds, the Minderoo Foundation, and Uniseed.

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Media enquiries: Florienne Loder | +61 404 230 0006|

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