Israeli’s Covid-killing nasal spray could be available in six months

Dr Gilly Regev, CEO of Canada-based SaNOtize, says her company’s spray can be used in the same way as hand sanitiser


The Israeli scientist behind a Covid-killing nasal spray believes the potentially life-saving product could be available in six months – and says it can be used in the same way as hand sanitiser.

Dr Gilly Regev is the CEO of Canada-based SaNOtize, whose Nitric Oxide Nasal Spray proved 99.9 per cent effective in independent lab tests at Utah State University in the US.

The spray, which attacks Covid-19 in the upper airways before it can multiply and spread, is currently undergoing Phase II trials in Canada and the UK, with more tests approved for countries including the United States.

Dr Regev said: “The idea is that when you use the spray…it’s exactly like a hand sanitiser. You use it when you think you may have something on your hands, so you use the hand sanitiser to kill it.

 “It’s the exact same thing. You go outside and you may have been breathing the virus, then you use the nasal spray to kill.”

Dr Regev and her team have prioritised testing the spray as an early treatment while they lobby for government support to fund larger and more expensive prevention trials.  Prevention trials - like those for vaccines - require several thousand people, whereas double-blind treatment trials can involve as few as 50.

Nitric oxide, Dr Regev explained, is a molecule that already exists in the human body, which produces it in greater amounts when a person has an infection.

She said: “So if I have the virus on there, on the surface of my nose, and I use the spray, it has a barrier that prevents the virus from going in.

“And it has nitric oxide also within this barrier that will kill the virus. So the nitric oxide basically attaches to the virus and changes it so it can’t infect you anymore.”

While Covid-19 can enter the body in various ways, Dr Regev is optimistic that stopping the virus in the nose could drastically improve symptoms and prognosis.

She said: “I think there is a good correlation… between how badly you are infected and [your symptoms].

 “The infection dose is really important, so if we can bring it down and have less virus in your body, then you will have less symptoms – or none.”

SaNOtize is developing various formulations of the product, and it will be up to individual governments to determine how it is regulated or made available.

The company developed a new bottle, which is already being manufactured in Israel, and they are working with Israeli pharmaceutical partners Nextar to produce the drug.

Dr Regev is confident the trials will be successful.

She said: “I think that we could within six months get the approval, and that’s why we’re ramping up manufacturing, so that when we get [it] we’re already ready to go.”

The Herzliya native, who completed her PhD in biochemistry at the Hebrew University, once had a very different career path in mind—wine.

Dr Regev funded her studies by working as a certified sommelier at Tel Aviv’s now-shuttered Mul Yam, once one of Israel’s most lauded restaurants. Her doctorate focused on antioxidants in wine and she continued to work in the industry throughout her master’s and PhD.

She added a Canadian diploma in wine and spirits after moving to Vancouver in 2004.

The mother-of-two pivoted to medical science after meeting Dr Chris Miller, with whom she set up SaNOtize in 2017.

She explained: “I wanted to go back to do some science and when I met Chris I just got fascinated by the nitric oxide world.”

The nasal spray is just one of the products the company, which employs 10 scientists, has in development. They are also trialling treatments for sinusitis and diabetic foot ulcers.

Dr Regev said: “I think both my partner and I are in this to make a difference, to help people with all kinds of diseases [who] have no other options.”

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