Long-Acting Injectable May be Potential Therapy for COVID-19

Killian Meara

Killian Meara, assistant editor for ContagionLive, joined the MJH Life Sciences team in November 2020. He graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in liberal studies, and concentrations in history and psychology. He enjoys film, reading, and pretending he is a good cook. Follow him on Twitter @krmeara or email him at [email protected]

Niclosamide, a common therapy for tapeworm infestation, has shown in lab studies to be highly effective against SARS-CoV-2.

A recent study conducted by investigators from the University of Liverpool has demonstrated that repurposing an existing, cheap therapy into a long-acting injectable has the potential to treat COVID-19.

Results from the study were published in the journal Nanoscale.

"The ultimate utility of our long-acting injectable can only be determined in adequately powered and well controlled randomized clinical trials but unlike other drugs that have been explored for repurposing niclosamide target concentrations may be achievable in humans,” Andrew Owen, a co-author on the study said. “The formulation has shown great promise in preclinical studies at a time when it is increasingly evident that drugs are urgently required to compliment the vaccines.”

For the study, a team of investigators from the University's Centre of Excellence for Long-acting Therapeutics (CELT) repurposed and reformulated drug compounds that had potential as a treatment for COVID-19.

One therapy that was identified and showed great promise was niclosamide, a therapy which is used to treat tapeworm infestations. Niclosamide has been shown to be highly effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus in multiple laboratory studies.

Employing the use of nanoprecipitation, the team formed dispersible solid drug nanoparticle formulations of niclosamide that can be stored as solids, reconstituted with water and utilized as a long acting injectable.

Additionally, they found a sustained concentration of the therapy circulating and may be maintained for the duration of early infection after just a single injection.

"This is still in early-stage development but the CELT team are currently working with a contract manufacturing organization to take this forward towards scale up and clinical manufacture,” Steve Rannard, a co-author on the study said. “This work is progressing well and if successful, human trials would be next. We envisage a future `Test-and-Treat' scenario where infected people are treated at the point of diagnosis with the full course of therapy in one injection."