STOP CORONA... ALREADY IN THE NOSE!
Interview with the Head of Research and Development,
Dr. Claudia Mattern, PhD, adj. Professor Chief Science Officer MetP Pharma AG
Action (Protection) instead of Reaction in viral airway invasion.
Emmetten, Switzerland, 28 January 2021
MetP Pharma AG is a R&D company focused exclusively on nasal application; whose technology represents a real advance in the application of brain-acting molecules. This development is optimally suited to ensure transport to the brain and spinal cord. The nasal gel is also suitable for directly trapping substances (allergens, viruses, etc.) that enter the nose, and thus preventing them from entering the body and triggering an allergy or infection.
MT: MetP is more known for developments in neurology, what do you have to do with viruses?
CM: That was obvious in the current situation of the covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, the nose is an interesting access route for drugs, including directly into the brain. On the other hand, the lungs are supplied with oxygen from the air by nasal breathing. With the air, however, potentially health-damaging foreign bodies such as viruses also enter the nose. Today, it is assumed that the nose is the main gateway for viruses such as SARS-CoV-2, not the throat. This assumption is probably supported by the loss of sense of smell in many corona patients up to neurological complications. We wanted to use these findings and our galenic expertise to almost prevent a possible infection, respectively reduce the amount of invading infectious viruses. And above all, we wanted to provide an immediately available solution.
MT: Where do you see the main problem?
CM: One of the peculiarities of coronaviruses is that they first infect the mucous membranes of the nose and throat. If they are not stopped there, they can enter the lungs and blood - and spread to other organs whose cells express receptors for virus entry: the heart, kidneys and blood vessels throughout the body, including the brain. To protect against all forms of corona and other viruses (virologists are already warning of MERS-CoV, known since 2012), complex vaccines capable of inducing and sustaining immune responses that provide long-lasting protection of the nasal and pharyngeal mucosa would be required.
MT: What is MetP's solution?
CM: We must slow down or best stop the proliferation and spread of the virus to other organs, most effectively at the main gateway, the nose. The viruses should be stopped there by the body's own immune defenses, but often the protective barriers of the mucous membranes are not fully functional. Therefore, every therapy must be aimed not only by an antiviral strategy, but also by restoring a normal mucosal function. MetP has developed a nasal gel that builds up an imperceptible barrier on the nasal mucosa. The protection of as well as a nourishing effect for the nasal mucosa lasts 6 to 8 hours for what reason we recommend a twice daily application, in the morning and early in the afternoon.
Because this barrier also has an adsorptive force on viruses there is no need for any active ingredient.
MT: How exactly does MetP's mucosal protection work?
CM: Our product has multiple effects because the goal was not only to focus on a positive effect on SARS-CoV-2 virus but also to ward off the widest possible range of viruses. That said, we looked for points of attack for viruses. For example, viruses are not viable at low pH of 3.0 - 4.0. However, these are pH values that should not be applied to the nose (pH value in healthy ones 5.5 to 6.5) for tolerability reasons. MetP's gel is pH-neutral. Another interesting characteristic of the virus proteins can be used for their inactivation: their electrostatic surface charge. This is primarily determined by the number and degree of dissociation of the positive and negative groups contained in the protein at a defined pH value. However, since the net charge of viruses varies, MetP's nasal gel contains a multifunctional excipient that binds viruses regardless of their charge. Finally, we have added another important feature to our product: coronaviruses are enveloped viruses. Damages to this protective lipid membrane compromises the integrity of the virus. MetP' nasal gel contains a special oil-surfactant mixture which dissolves the lipid envelope of the virus (similia similibus solvuntur» ,"Same dissolves in the same"). By destroying this envelop an infection is no longer possible. By the way: Hand washing with water and soap is successful for the same reason.
Action (Protection) instead of Reaction in viral airway invasion
Nascum®-VIREX prevent virus entry at the mucous membrane of the nose
MT: How sure are you about the effectiveness of your nasal gel
We used a well-validated and standardized in vitro method, MucilAir™ from the company Epithelix Sàrl (Geneva, Switzerland), to measure the reduction of virus entry. This is a tissue-engineered 3D model of human airway epithelium with ciliated, goblet, and basal cells, which represents upper airway epithelia and has speciﬁc mechanisms for combating infections – comparable to the in vivo situation, such as mucus production, mucociliary transport, and secretion of defence substances. In summary, this study shows a 2 log 10 inhibitory effect of MetP’s gel on Rhinovirus-A16 genome copies. This effect was achieved without changes in the physiological properties (TEER, LDH, MCC, CBF) of MucilAir™ under non-infected conditions. This represents a 99% reduction in viral load. With regard to the risk of infection, the permitted number of people in a room is currently limited. Here it should be noted, however, that researchers in Vienna (A. Bergthaler et al. 2020, Research Center for Molecular Medicine) have recently calculated that on average about 1000 viruses (range 100 – 5000) have to be transmitted per SARS-CoV-2 infection – the infectious dose. The good news is that you don't have to reduce the virus concentration in a room to near zero. We assume that a combination of the known protective measures as masks plus our mucosal protection for the nose, we could achieve a superior prevention of viral infections than with masks alone.
MT: Are you a vaccine skeptic?
CM: Definitely not. But despite the promising developments of vaccines and antivirals it is always better to prevent possible negative consequences of an infection early on than to combat them tediously afterwards. Due to the short development time the effects and possible side effects of these vaccines are not yet fully known - apart from the fact that many patients refuse injections in principle, even if they do not have an alternative world view. After all, we see syringe phobia in about 30% of the human population. In conclusion, we would like to position our nasal gel Nascum Virex as a supplement or complement to any vaccine strategy.
MT: You describe your technology as “disruptive". What does this mean?
CM: We think - a bit overstated - that our gel is the biggest invention since Aspirin. Our gel is multifunctional regarding the way of virus inactivation by damaging the virus structure. The gel is nourishing for the nasal mucosa, it has a neutral pH, it does not burn and does not run out of the nose. It contains no active ingredient, preservative, alcohol, paraffin products or fragrances.
Needless to say, Nasalia are to be used only by a single person. That's the reason why we are strict opponents of multi-dose applicators. Therefore, we have developed a practical single-use dosing system for our gel. Due to its composition the gel is a medical device that does not require approval and is immediately ready for use.
MT: What are MetP's next goals?
CM: Currently, there is an experiment with SARS-CoV-2 viruses on human nasal tissue underway in a BSL-3 laboratory. The results are probably available in the 2nd half of January 2021. In the medium term, clinical trials are envisaged with the aim for a possible registration as a pharmaceutical product. But since we are a pure R&D company an industrial partner is necessary for this endeavor.
For further information please contact Strategic Swiss Partners AG:
Dr. Michael Nawrath, MD PhD
Managing Partner Health Care & Life Science
T: +41 78 745 28 09
Managing Partner, Head of Business Development
T: +41 78 768 18 10
Interview : Medical Tribune Switzerland issue Jan 22nd 2021
MT: Dr. med. Eric X. Jensen, Medical Tribune
CM:Dr. Claudia Mattern, PhD, adj. Professor Chief Science Officer MetP Pharma AG
MN: Dr. Michael Nawrath, MD PhD, Managing Partner Health Care & Life Science, Strategic Swiss Partners AG
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