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University of Bristol Scientists Form Halo Therapeutics to Develop ‘Pan-Corona’ Antivirals

A team of top scientists from the University of Bristol have announced the formation of a new biotech company that is developing ground-breaking and newly patented potential treatments for coronavirus.

Bristol-based Halo Therapeutics is founded by the team of leading scientists who found that exposing the SARS-CoV-2 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.

The company is now preparing to make an application to start clinical trials. If proven effective, the antivirals could be used by people of all ages worldwide at the first sign of COVID-19 symptoms, or if they have been in contact with someone with the virus, preventing the virus from taking hold and stopping further transmission.

“The aim of our treatment is to significantly reduce the amount of virus that enters the body and to stop it from multiplying. Then, even if people are infected with the virus or exposed to it, they will not become ill because the antiviral prevents the virus from spreading to the lungs and beyond. Importantly, because the viral load will be so low it will likely also stop transmission,” explained Professor Imre Berger, Director of the Max Planck-Bristol Centre for Minimal Biology at Bristol and one of the team leading the drug’s development.

Lab studies indicate the antiviral will work against all pathogenic coronavirus strains including the highly contagious ‘UK (Kent)’, ‘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, and offer the possibility of a game-changing pan-coronavirus antiviral to treat patients at all stages of the disease and to reduce the transmission of the virus.