Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs like remdisivir and niclosamide are promising treatments for COVID-19. Multiple clinical studies of remdisivir have shown benefits such as reduced recovery time. However, in November of 2020 the WHO recommended against the use of remdisivir for COVID-19 treatment based on questions of effectiveness. There remains a critical unmet need for COVID-19 antiviral treatments that can improve outcomes and speed recovery.
Niclosamide has shown promise in animal models for treating COVID-19. However, a major limitation of niclosamide is poor absorption, which means that very little, if any, of the drug reaches the target site of the infection.
Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy have created a new formulation of niclosamide that can deliver therapeutic dosages directly to the airways. By using lysozyme as a carrier, the novel formulation exhibits potent in vitro and in vivo activity against SARS-CoV-2. The niclosamide-lysozyme formulation may also protect against secondary infections and inflammatory lung damage. These effects are key in limiting the severity of a COVID-19 infection once it has made its way into the lungs.
The niclosamide-lysozyme formulation was designed to be compatible with all devices that administer drug to the airway. The formulation can be used with dry powder inhalers, nebulizers, and nasal sprays. This flexibility enables delivery to the primary site of infection through the spectrum of COVID-19 infections. The niclosamide-lysozyme formulation was tested in the most challenging models of coronavirus infection and shows promise as a therapeutically effective, rapidly scalable, and globally distributable antiviral therapy to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
With demonstrated in vivo and in vitro activity against both MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2, this formulation has the potential for treating future coronavirus infections. Given the high potency and broad-spectrum activity against coronaviruses and both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, this formulation has the potential to be used for a variety of airway infections.