Austin company works to launch COVID-19 antibody treatment in new inhaler form

Coronavirus

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new antibody-based treatment could not only help treat COVID-19 symptoms in those already affected but potentially prevent new infections from occurring.

The treatment comes in the form of an inhaler.

A researcher at the University of Texas at Austin first developed the technology, and now an Austin-based pharmaceutical company is trying to get it on the market.

When it comes to treating infectious disease, the vaccine is the “gold standard.” However, prior to the vaccine coming on the market, scientists developed treatments for the virus, helping protect high-risk communities from COVID-19.

Current treatments require patients to get an infusion to treat COVID-19, which can take hours.

Dale Christensen, with Austin-based drug developer TFF Pharmaceuticals, says they’ve got an easy solution to getting a monoclonal antibody treatment straight to your doorstep — rather than being hooked up to a machine and IV.

“Once the capsule is punctured, you put it in, inhale into your mouth and that’s the delivery,” Christensen said. “We’re delivering it right to the lung where you need it to work.”

The technology, developed by University of Texas researcher Bill Williams, has recently demonstrated it’s successful in preventing severe illness against the delta variant.

“We are able to convert liquid forms of medication into dry powder forms,” Williams said.

In this case, the antibody called Aug-3387 is converted into dry powder and then put inside the inhaler, rapidly coating the lungs with virus-neutralizing antibodies.

“If somebody gets COVID, we can treat that person,” said Christensen. “We can also treat their close family members who are at high risk for developing COVID.”

TFF Pharmaceuticals is getting ready to perform toxicology studies on the device. They expect to be ready to perform human clinic trials by early 2022.

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