VANCOUVER -- Clinical trials are underway for a new COVID-19 treatment that’s delivered by nasal spray. It’s called Sanotize, and it uses a known anti-microbial called nitric oxide.

“You’re using a hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands. It’s a similar idea, but instead of a hand sanitizer, it’s a nasal spray to disinfect your upper airway,” said Sanotize CEO Dr. Gilly Regev.

“The virus infection COVID starts in the upper airway, the virus multiples there. So if you spray our liquid and this liquid kills the virus, then you prevent the progression of the disease.”

The company has a $400,000 grant from the National Research Council and is now conducting phase two of a clinical trial on people at high risk for contracting COVID-19 and those with mild symptoms of the disease.

“Most groups are working on the later stage COVID-19 where it’s already into your lungs,” said Sanotize’s chief scientific officer Dr. Chris Miller. “So we’re trying to catch it early.”

The company is looking for 210 participants for the trial, which includes two weeks of treatment and one week of follow-up.

“It’s all depending on how quickly we can enroll. So the faster we enroll, the faster this trial will be completed,” said Regev.

The company has outfitted an RV as a mobile lab and testing centre that doctors can drive to high-risk places Iike long-term care homes.

“It’s very important people are aware of this study so when there’s an outbreak we get contacted right away,” said Miller. “We just need to quickly identify outbreak centres and get in there and offer the individuals (a chance to) participate in the trial.”

If the trial shows Sanotize reduces the symptoms and duration of COVID-19 and it’s approved by Health Canada, the company hopes it can be sold at pharmacies until a vaccine is found.

“I’ve always envisioned that I would see someday people on trains and planes and bring out their little spray bottle when someone coughs on them or you go to daycare you do the little spray in each nose,” said Miller.

If the treatment is given the green light, the company says it could begin production in the next few months.