Victorian Government funding for COVID-19 treatment clinical trial

Michelle McIntosh and team with The Hon. Jaala Pulford for launch of intranasal heparin sprayA trial of a potential COVID-19 treatment using an intranasal spray has received $4.2 million from the Victorian Government.

Monash University is playing a key role in the trial, which involves the use of intranasal heparin, a re-purposed therapy aimed at reducing the clinical impact on infected individuals and lowering the risk of transmission.

Professor Michelle McIntosh, from the Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) at Monash’s Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Services, is among the team of researchers working on the trial. The researchers are from some of Victoria’s leading institutes, including the Peter Doherty Institutes, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, University of Melbourne, St Vincent’s Hospital, Northern Health and the CSIRO.

Professor McIntosh is a specialist in drug delivery systems and her team is working on optimising the formulation of the intranasal spray.

Victorian Minister for Innovation, Medical Research and the Digital Economy, Jaala Pulford, announced the funding for the trial during a visit to Northern Health today, 8 December.

The heparin spray is designed to coat the SARS Co-V-2 virus and render it ineffective.

Professor McIntosh said molecular modelling has indicated the spray would be effective against new variants, such as Omicron.

She said it was hoped the spray would provide a treatment option for people who were unable to be vaccinated, as well as for those who were vaccinated and may contract COVID-19.

The clinical trial will involve people who have tested positive to COVID-19, and offered to all residents of the household. The trial will run out of Northern Health and involve up to 400 households.

Phase one of the clinical trial is expected to take about six months.