Researchers at University of St Andrews developed an antiviral drug that can be taken as nasal spray which will block coronavirus from latching on to lung cells. In a study, they found that the medicine named Neumifil could secure the virus from latching on to cells found in human airways.
After looking at the results of lab tests watched by Public Health England, there is hope that this drug can be used for coronavirus patients. Remdesivir and hydroxychloroquine, two of the most promising drugs so far are not found to be useful in clinical trial against coronavirus.
ACE-2 receptors in the airways act like doorway for virus into the body. Neumifil blocks the coronavirus interaction with ACE-2 receptors. Scientists who are trying to stop the disease are mainly focusing on these receptors. Some researchers suggest that smokers have low chances of illness when infected with coronavirus because nicotine reduces the number of receptors which in turn block the access of virus into the body.
How does Neumifil medicine work?
Pneumagen Ltd, a company from University of St Andrews that focused on infectious diseases and cancer created Neumifil medicine. This medicine works by binding to sugar molecules on the surface of respiratory cells and on the virus in airways and lungs. This affects the ability of virus attacking respiratory cells through its "spike" protein on to ACE-2 receptors.
Lead researcher Gary Taylor told Daily Mail that invasion of Neumifil is given through nasal spray. "The spike protein has complex carbohydrates attached to it, and we supposed that our drug binds to these and blocks access of the spike protein to its ACE-2 receptor," he said.
Some researchers suggest that smoking cigarettes protects people from coronavirus by increasing the level of ACE-2 receptors. Even, University of St Andrews researchers suggest that increasing the level of these receptors seems to be focused right now as they are the virus' route into the body.