'Like hand sanitizer for your nose': potential COVID-19 treatment to be tested in Montreal


A Vancouver-based biotech company is looking for people in Montreal to take part in clinical trials for a potential new COVID-19 treatment.

The potential treatment from the firm SaNOtize uses a known anti-microbial called nitric oxide, and the company hopes it can be marketed as a preventative treatment against COVID-19 until a vaccine becomes available.

SaNOtize CEO Dr. Gilly Regev says it's hoped the nasal spray will kill COVID-19 in the nasal passages, before the virus has a chance to ravage the body.

"It's a bit similar to the hand sanitizer that you're using to kill viruses on your hands," Dr. Regev says. "It's a nose sanitizer, where you use a nasal spray or nasal rinse, and this kills the viruses within your nasal passages. It has been shown that this is where the virus multiplies originally, so if you can get rid of the virus and kill it at that point, then you will prevent the progression of the disease."

The company has already completed the first phase of its trials. Phase two, the phase designed to measure how safe and effective the treatment is, has already begun recruiting participants for the trial in B.C., and starting June 1, it will begin looking for 100 people in Montreal to take part in the trials.

Dr. Regev says they're looking for specific types of candidates — those who've either tested positive for COVID-19 or who are otherwise at high risk of becoming infected.

"We are looking for any health care employees that are either in a high-risk environment such as home care facilities that have outbreaks ongoing, or people that have already tested positive," she says.

In all, SaNOtize is looking for 210 people to take part in the second phase of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks — two weeks of treatments, and one more week of follow-up. "The faster we can enrol, the faster the trial will end."

Dr. Regev says if everything goes perfectly and the treatment receives approval from Health Canada, it could be made available to the general public as early as this fall.


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