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Biotech company seeking FDA approval to test nasal spray as short-term coronavirus protection

Biotech company seeking FDA approval to test nasal spray as short-term coronavirus protection
© Sotira

An Arizona biotech company is awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin formal clinical trials on a nasal spray as a potential COVID-19 treatment.

Keptide, a nasal spray developed by Sotira, seeks to prevent the novel coronavirus from entering cells and infecting the body, according to a report from the Arizona Republic

Studies on mice, primate cells and human lung cells using the treatment have shown promise, according to the outlet. The company said Keptide has shown 100 percent effectiveness without side effects.

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Sotira scientist Gunnar Gottschalk said that the product appeared promising after a group of rodents were each injected with an inactivated, noninfectious version of COVID-19. Some of the mice had also been injected with Keptide. Many of the mice had died, others were incapacitated and did not burrow, groom or eat. But a third group that received the experimental treatment were unaffected.  

Still, scientists at the company say that the product is temporary and is meant for short-term uses, according to the Arizona Republic. 

The news from Sotira comes as the United States continues to be ravaged by the coronavirus, with state and local leaders increasingly moving to reimpose harsher restrictions and stop the spread of the virus. 

The country on Thursday recorded more than 14 million coronavirus infections just six days after the U.S. had reached the 13 million-infection threshold. The grim milestone reflects the speed at which the virus is spreading as the U.S. enters the cold months and moves indoors where social distancing is harder to achieve. 

In addition, two companies — Pfizer and Moderna — have applied for emergency use authorization from the FDA for their vaccine candidates, and the federal government has begun ramping up efforts for a nationwide distribution of their vaccines. 

Sotira CEO James Keating told the Arizona Republic that the Keptide nasal treatment could eventually be used as an over-the-counter preventative measure and first responders could use it before they start their work shifts.

"What we believe we have here is something that you could purchase at a pharmacy ... and you can store and use as needed," Keating said, according to the newspaper. 

The company added that the potential treatment, unlike the COVID-19 vaccine, is easily stored because it does not need to be kept at extremely cold temperatures.