The revolutionary treatment prevents the coronavirus from entering the body’s virus receptor cells while at the same time allowing immune systems to recognise the virus and learn how to fight it.
In the future it could also be used with other viruses such as seasonal influenza.
If human trials of the new therapy are successful a daily supplement or nasal spray could be ready by early next year and allow pre-pandemic life to resume without social distancing.
This would also remove the need for the conventional vaccines being developed across the globe, including at Oxford University, which experts think are likely to need annual booster injections and may only reduce the severity of Covid-19 in the same way as the existing flu jab.
The new treatment, being developed in the US and funded by British investors, is made from a synthetic protein sequence modelled on the coronavirus which acts like a “cork” and stops the infection from entering the body’s virus receptor cells – known as the ACE-2 receptors.
It has been assessed by leading experts at the University of California and the results of a promising laboratory study were published in the preprint journal Bio Archive on Friday.
This showed the new therapy, known as Sars-Block, stopped 95 to 100 per cent of the virus from entering coronavirus receptor cells.
Andre Watson, a bioengineer and expert in nano science who invented Sars-Block, said: “This is very exciting and could revolutionise the way we treat and prevent infection.
“Usually if you get infected with a virus you have to wait it out.
“If all goes well this novel form of treatment would protect you from becoming ill by blocking the infection from progressing in your body while also allowing your immune system to recognise and fight it at the same time.”
He added: “We hope now we can fast track to human studies and have the first doses ready by early 2021.”
Mr Watson, founder and chair of leading genetic medicine company Ligandal, has carried out the work with Robert Stroud, professor of biochemistry at the University of California San Francisco and member of the UK Royal Academy, together with experts in immunology, computer science and biophysics.
The work is being funded by a British syndicate of investors led by Adam Hamdy, author and medical strategy consultant.
He said: “The work conducted by Andre Watson and the Ligandal team could change the way we fight lots of viral diseases. Meeting the challenge of coronavirus is the first step.”
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