Starpharma (ASX: SPL) has been awarded $1 million in matched funding by the Australian Government’s Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) Biomedical Translation Bridge (BTB) Programme to expedite development and commercialisation of its COVID-19 antiviral nasal spray based on Starpharma’s proprietary dendrimer, SPL7013.
Starpharma CEO, Dr Jackie Fairley, said the company was awarded the non-dilutive funding in a highly competitive COVID- specific MRFF funding round.
He said Starpharma’s product was selected for support by an expert international panel as one of only five recipients for this COVID-19 specific MRFF funding which required projects to be capable of achieving substantial and rapid impact in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic within 12 months.
Dr Fairley said Starpharma’s patented SPL7013 nasal spray has the potential to prevent both acquisition and transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and, due to its broad-spectrum antiviral activity, could also play a role for other respiratory viruses and future pandemic preparedness.
Feedback from clinicians and healthcare providers indicates a strong interest in a preventative product for COVID-19 as an additional line of defence, in addition to conventional PPE and vaccines.
The product would have application for the general population, including those in the frontline of this crisis, such as doctors, nurses and those exposed to crowded and high-risk environments, such as public transport, airlines and aged care.
Over and above its potent antiviral effects, SPL7013 has a number of advantages, including being the active component in approved and marketed VivaGel products sold in UK, Europe, Asia, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and already manufactured at commercial scale, allowing for rapid market entry.
Starpharma plans to expedite approval of a SPL7013 nasal spray by leveraging its existing regulatory approvals and extensive clinical and nonclinical data for related products containing SPL7013. The company will also leverage its existing supply chains and manufacturing relationships to expedite access to the product.
Since initiating the SPL7013 nasal spray development programme in April, Starpharma has already undertaken extensive development activities for the product.
To date, SPL7013 has been reformulated into several nasal spray formulations, a manufacturer has been identified, and pilot manufacture has been undertaken. In addition, work has commenced on compiling regulatory documentation in preparation for submission.
Starpharma has also commenced confidential commercialisation discussions, having shared product details and supporting technical data with a number of interested pharmaceutical companies, covering a range of geographic markets.
We are very pleased that the SPL7013 COVID-19 nasal spray has been selected for this grant, especially from such a large and competitive field of applicants,” Dr Fairley said.
“This is an important initiative aimed at accelerating Australian innovations to address the global COVID-19 pandemic and we thank the Government for continuing to fund programs like these that drive the local development of novel, innovative therapies for patients globally.
“The selection of Starpharma’s programme recognises its near- term potential and the global relevance of the SPL7013 COVID-19 nasal spray, with differentiated features that are complementary to other preventative strategies, like vaccines.
“We are proud of our contribution to the Australian biomedical industry response to combat COVID-19.”