UK-based biotechnology firm Destiny Pharma has partnered with SporeGen to jointly develop the latter’s SPOR-COV product candidate as a preventive treatment against Covid-19.

As part of a collaboration agreement, the companies will share any costs and commercial returns from the product. The aim is to complete a pre-clinical programme and be ready to launch the first human clinical trials within 18 months.

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Destiny Pharma will combine its pre-clinical and clinical drug development expertise with SporeGen’s understanding of Bacillus bacterial spores to progress SPOR‑COV.

SPOR‑COV, made up of a Bacillus bacteria formulation, is administered as a nasal spray. In preclinical models of influenza virus, the product provided complete protection.

Intended to leverage the innate immune system to develop Covid-19 protection a few days after dosing, SPOR-COV could help significantly reduce infection rates and transmission.

The companies hope to make the product available globally as a cost-effective measure against Covid-19, new Covid strains and other respiratory viral infections.

Destiny Pharma CEO Neil Clark said: “Destiny Pharma is committed to building a novel pipeline targeted at preventing infections and is very pleased to now be working with partners on the SPOR-COV project alongside our existing in-house XF platform.

“The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has highlighted powerfully the need for innovation in developing new treatments to prevent and manage both viral and bacterial infections and Destiny Pharma remains committed to developing cost-effective products that meet this medical need.”

Destiny Pharma and SporeGen received an £800,000 Innovate UK grant to support the £1m cost of the initial SPOR-COV programme.

The preclinical efficacy work will take place in alliance with professor Aras Kadioglu, at the University of Liverpool.

Meanwhile, HURO will perform manufacturing and formulation development activities, a manufacturer of bacterial product formulations based in Vietnam.