The problem our project solves

A pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China has alerted the world that a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has crossed species and it has infected humans. This virus causes the so-called coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) accompanied by mild to severe lung injury that can lead to multiple organ failure and death. Curcumin, a molecule accepted as food ingredient, have emerged as a potent and promising candidate in the battle against the inflammation. Indeed, it has proven antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic properties, it is able to inhibit severe acute respiratory syndrome caused by other viruses of the corona family and it has been reported to have the best potential to act as COVID-19 main protease inhibitors in docking studies. Sadly, curcumin has low bioavailability and therefore its clinical activity is limited.

The solution we bring to the table

To overcome this problem, numerous methods have been undertaken to increase its bioavailability. The delivery system that is being proposed SpherAQ ™, can combine the advantaged given by the 100% multilayer biodegradable and biocompatible shell and the specific structure of the particle characterized with their small size. This product is ready for the market, can be produced in high quantities, doesn’t need refrigerated system for the transport because it can be turned in a stable powder form, that can permit an easier transportation. Its features guarantee transparency, higher solubility in solution, without the presence of agglomeration and coalescence phenomenon, and last but not least- higher bioavailability. These nanoencapsulates are already used to create a turmeric extract supplement with Lipofoods SLU (Spain), leaders in functional nutrition. The formulation respects not only the environment but also the ethical choices of people- it can be produced in a vegetarian, vegan, Kosher and Halal version and in liquid form (with the possibility to be put in aerosol for lung administration), or as powder or granules (for oral administration as the formulation reaches the intestine).

What we have done during the weekend

It was a real challenge in a challenge. We managed to team up, to learn from each other, to become a team, in less than 48 hours, people with different age, skills, cultural background, and also different scientific one but with a common vision to help the community to find an affordable, reliable and alternative therapy against COVID19. It was a great pleasure and a great effort to reach our goal in short time given and be together at a distance, becoming a real team!

The solution’s impact to the crisis

The entire globe will require an accessible and affordable therapy against COVID-19 and timing is a key point. Curcumin, a natural compound, doesn’t show toxicity even if administered at high doses, it is a well-established drug in the market and its price is cheaper compared to other drugs. Moreover, it has already been proposed as a treatment for SARS-CoV due to its unique anti-inflammatory properties. One problem correlated to the administration of curcumin is its low solubility in water that determine consequently a lower efficacy and bioavailability. We propose a solution demonstrating unique futures in cells studies but also in humans. As way of administration we propose the intestinal one, but we want to explore also the pulmonary one, so in this way curcumin in the nano form will be able to act in the right place where it is needed the most. We think that patients will be more prone to this type of cure since curcumin has been socially accepted as a food ingredient and it play an important role in traditional medicine worldwide. We already though as well to administer curcumin along with other molecules like Ivermectin in order to increase its efficacy.

The necessities in order to continue the project

In order to test the molecule of curcumin in Covid-19 patients, it is necessary doing preliminary test to choose the range of dose efficacy against the Sars-CoV-2. It will be necessary to test the solution in pulmonary cell models for safety assays and on human cells infected with Sars-CoV-2 to characterize both antiviral/anti-inflammatory activities. Subsequently, different commercially available nebulizers (jet, mesh and ultrasonic with their respective different settings) will be used to generate an aerosol of the developed formulation. The aerodynamic properties of formulation droplets obtained with the different apparatus will be measured with the Next Generation Impactor (NGI) to assess their distribution along the different parts of the emulated respiratory system and therefore define the combination which generates the most efficient inhalation product. Successful formulation will be re-confirmed as safe on pulmonary cell lines, its kinetics defined on penetration in human mucus, uptake by macrophage-like cells infected or not with the Sars-CoV-2 virus. These experiments will start the preclinical phase of this formulation and recommend it for animal and, hopefully, human clinical trials.

The value of our solution after the crisis

In a time of crisis, rapid solutions focused primarily on short- term, integrated solutions using existing technologies are needed. Our crisis solution is based on already scaled up SpherAQ™, Sphera Encapsulation’s Multilayer technology through which delivering notorious beneficial natural products such as curcumin can be done in an effective manner. Our products would be part of people's routine as they are safe, effective, easy and affordable. Therefore, the impact of our solution products in the treatment and prevention of the disease it’s high and wide due to their fast production and friendly consumption.

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