The newly formed biotech start up Halo Therapeutics, spun out from the University of Bristol, has become the latest company to join the Science Creates ecosystem.
The team is targeting new treatments for coronavirus as they expand on their exciting recent breakthrough discovery, which was published in Science Magazine.
New antiviral drugs offer the hope of broadening the range of treatments available to treat COVID-19. The recent findings by the Halo Therapeutics team have demonstrated that exposing the SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus) virus to a free fatty acid called linoleic acid locks the virus’s spike protein into a closed, non-infective form stopping it in its tracks.
Excitement and interest surrounds the prospect of pan-coronavirus antiviral treatments that are effective against variants and are quick and simple to administer.
Lab studies indicate the antiviral will work against all pathogenic coronavirus strains including the highly contagious ‘UK’, ‘South African’ and ‘Brazilian’ variants by preventing the virus from penetrating cells in the nose, throat and lungs. The treatments under development by Halo Therapeutics include a nasal spray and an asthma-type inhaler.
“Our vision is that at the first sign of the disease, whether you come into contact with someone who has COVID-19 or you have early symptoms, you would self-medicate at home to stop the virus in its tracks and prevent you from getting ill.”
3D visual of Halo’s antiviral drug. Credit: Halo therapeutics
The team is led by the three Co-Founders: CEO Dr Daniel Fitzgerald, CTO Prof. Christiane Berger-Schaffitzel, and CSO Prof. Imre Berger.
The study leading to the discovery included experts from the Max Planck-Bristol Centre, the School of Biochemistry, the Bristol UNCOVER Group and was supported by funds from the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute with additional support from Oracle high-performance cloud computing and Genscript.
Halo Therapeutics are currently engaging investors to help finance multiple parallel clinical trials. If approved, the antiviral treatments could potentially start rolling out to patients globally.