P&G Health, the health care division of The Procter & Gamble Company, has a long-term research interest in viruses particularly with respect to rhinoviruses and the common cold. With the outbreak of COVID-19, the research team was interested to know if their nasal mucoadhesive gel technology, which works against common cold viruses as an intranasal spray, could work in the same way against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causing COVID-19.
A laboratory test was conducted to look at the technology’s ability to trap and prevent the SARS-CoV-2 virus from infecting cells it needs for replication. A standard antiviral laboratory test with the SARS-CoV-2 virus was performed. The in vitro test was conducted using the European Standard EN 14476 in a laboratory based in Virginia, United States. In the test, the nasal mucoadhesive gel formulation was mixed with the virus for various times (1, 5 and 10 minutes). After the reaction was stopped, the mixture was added to cell monolayers. Virus quantity was then assessed from the cells after a 7-day incubation. The nasal mucoadhesive gel was shown to reduce the level of SARS-CoV-2 viruses by 99.5% at 1-minute exposure, with even greater reductions observed with 5 and 10 minutes of exposure.
This suggests the nasal mucoadhesive gel may reduce SARS-CoV-2 virus infection of cells. Whilst this laboratory test demonstrates that the technology has a similar mechanistic impact on SARS-CoV-2, to that it has on rhinoviruses, further clinical research is needed to determine whether this technology could provide a protective benefit against SARS-CoV-2 in humans.
P&G Health is considering a number of research proposals to further investigate the efficacy of the nasal mucoadhesive gel against a range of respiratory viruses including SARS-CoV-2.
Professor Alyn Morice, Head of Cardiorespiratory studies at Hull York Medical School, comments “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all our lives and any well-designed research to explore every possible treatment option in the fight against COVID-19 is to be welcomed. P&G Health’s pre-clinical study is a very interesting piece of research which suggests a potential link between the nasal mucoadhesive gel technology and a reduction in the ability of SARS-CoV-2 virus to infect cells, in a similar fashion to its proven activity against the common cold.
This pre-clinical research is a good first step and an essential preliminary to conducting human clinical research, even with a previously tested technology. We have fantastic COVID-19 research capabilities across universities and institutions in the UK, so I’d encourage P&G Health to tap into this as they develop their research plans on this promising technology”.