DURHAM, NC – Researchers from a triangle-based biotech company said Thursday that experiments with a known booster of immunity have yielded some surprising results.
Scientists from the Durham-based KNOW Bio infected host cells with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19. They then exposed the cells to a solution containing nitric oxide. Within 24 hours, 99.9% of the viruses were dead. More importantly, the remaining viruses cannot replicate and the host cells are intact.
“You can kill the virus, but by damaging its ability to replicate?” It’s a truly amazing discovery, “said CEO Neil Hunter.
Nitric oxide is a compound that the human body produces naturally. Scientists have suggested it be used to fight the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but Hunter says no one has tried to do so.
When additional levels were introduced through therapeutic doses in the KNOW Bio experiments, Chief Research Officer Mark Schönfish said the virus was far less able to bind to host cells. Even if the virus has indeed passed, its ability to replicate is severely impaired. And even if the virus did enter the host cell, it was unable to destroy the cell wall and spread to other cells.
“Viral replication is what leads to infection, so the ability to prevent viral replication or inhibit viral replication is really key to controlling COVID infection,”
The process has yet to be reviewed and all proposed treatments must be approved by the FDA. Hunter says it will usually take several years, but his company may seek permission for emergency use. This would speed up the process.
Meanwhile, Hunter already has big plans for nitric oxide treatment. He says it can be useful against many upper respiratory tract infections.
“So we’re not just killing SARS-CoV-2. We’re going to kill SARS-CoV-3 when it comes out, most likely because nitric oxide killed SARS-CoV-1 (sic) when it came out in 2005. So we’re going to kill the flu, we’re going to kill the pseudomonad, all those nasty things in your lungs, we can get rid of them, ”he says.
Hunter says there is always a risk that the virus will develop chemical immunity to nitric oxide, but he doesn’t think that’s likely because of the way nitric oxide interacts with cells.