Clinical trials are underway for the spray, which is designed to disrupt the cold virus’ infection cycle.
A new nasal spray currently in clinical trials could be a breakthrough remedy in treating the common cold.
The nasal spray is being developed in Australia. It contains an antiviral agent that works to kill viruses in the nasal passage.
So far, researchers say the results look promising.
“Studies have shown that the active agent in the nasal spray attacks viruses and inactivates most of them in 15 to 60 seconds, and importantly, viruses can’t become resistant to it,” Peter Molloy, chairman of Firebrick Pharma, the developers of the spray, told Healthline.
“During a cold there are millions of viruses present in the nasal passages and this is how the infection is spread in the nose and to other people. By using the spray frequently during a cold, we hope to interrupt the infection cycle, reducing the symptoms and duration of a cold . Clinical trials are currently underway to assess that. It could also protect you from catching a cold or passing it on to others, which would be great,” he added.
There are millions of cases of the common cold every year in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adults get two to three colds every year. Children get even more.
Colds result in at least 75 million visits to the doctor every year. It’s estimated between 22 million and 189 million school days are missed due to the common cold.
This results in approximately 126 million workdays missed due to parents needing to care for their children.
The common cold is responsible for about 40 percent of missed work in the United States, affecting about 150 million workdays.
“The common cold clearly is a major problem. It’s a vexing problem. It doesn’t kill people, but it makes them miserable for a period of time. It interrupts school among young children. It keeps parents home because they have to care for the children. Grown-ups get colds, too, and they either miss work or underperform at work and feel crummy for a substantial period of time,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, told Healthline.
There are more than 200 viruses that can cause the common cold Finding effective treatments or a cure is not easy.
“Viruses are very difficult to treat and even harder to cure. Research into the common cold is not well-funded, and because most colds are mild, the benefit-to-risk ratio must be very high. In addition, the return on the research investment is low. People will not pay thousands of dollars for a cure for the common cold, so the price of the cure will have to be low,” Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a professor of medicine in the division of infectious diseases at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), told Healthline.
There have been a number of attempts at curing the common cold, but there is no data supporting the success of any of these treatments.
“As one example, some people swear by zinc lozenges, which are claimed to prevent attachment of some of the common cold viruses to cells, or zinc nasal spray. But data on clinical effectiveness, such as good clinical trials, are lacking. Gargling with salt water, saline (salt water) nasal sprays, hydrogen peroxide, and various lozenges have also been among the plethora of things people have tried, but clinical trials have not usually been done, and so we rely on anecdote,” Stephen Morse, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, told Healthline.
Morse says if clinical trials are successful, the nasal spray has great potential.
“We can all imagine how much we’d love to have something that would be easy and safe to use and that could prevent catching or spreading a cold, or make it go away quickly,” he said. “Also easy to imagine how much worry and lost productivity could be prevented. The product looks fairly inexpensive (the same chemical is on the market as a skin disinfectant), and if it works it would be a great help, maybe even for other respiratory infections. But we’ve seen hopeful leads before, so only well-conducted clinical trials will tell.”
Viruses work by infecting susceptible host cells such as those in the upper respiratory tract.
They then use the infected cell’s own machinery to replicate and produce multiple copies of the virus.
The offspring then move on to other cells to repeat the process.
Viruses spread between humans when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus then moves to a new body and the cycle repeats.
Molloy says the nasal spray, which is currently in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, will be able to disrupt that cycle.
“Cold viruses tend to be very promiscuous and can mutate readily to circumvent any vaccine or targeted antiviral drug. Our approach solves both problems by killing all viruses indiscriminately,” he said.
Schaffner is cautiously optimistic.
“This appears to be a genuine antiviral agent, which if it could stop the replication of the virus, would abbreviate the duration of the cold. So let’s hope, but it’s still kind of early days,” he said.
A nasal spray developed by Australian researchers may be a breakthrough in treating the common cold.
Still in clinical trials, the spray works by killing viruses in the nasal passage.
Experts are cautiously optimistic the spray will be proven effective in an ongoing clinical trial.