17 December 2020

Danish Researchers’ Inhalation Treatment for COVID-19 Passes Animal Testing


A new treatment for COVID-19 developed by Danish researchers has just passed animal testing. The treatment is based on inhalation of particles that kill viruses and bacteria. The researchers hope to be able to commence safety testing on humans in the spring.

Photo: Colourbox

Even though the first vaccines against COVID-19 may be approved later this month, the fight against corona virus is in no way over. Therefore, there is still a need for new treatments for people in hospital with the disease.

And such a treatment is now one step closer to becoming a reality. Today, Danish researchers from the University of Copenhagen and Rigshospitalet can together with the Norwegian company SoftOx Solutions announce that their inhalation treatment for COVID-19 is safe to use in animals.

‘It is a big day for us. We have previously proven that our treatment is able to fight coronavirus in the laboratory. Now we have proven that it also safe to use on larger animals which resemble humans, namely pigs’, say Postdoc Elin Jørgensen and Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt from the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, and the Department of Clinical Microbiology at Rigshospitalet.

‘The patient will inhale a mild acid solution that helps the immune system fight infection in the airways caused by bacteria or viruses. We also hope it will be able to fight other infections such as pneumonia, influenza and tuberculosis – diseases which kill millions of people globally each year’, Thomas Bjarnsholt explains.

Builds on Wound Treatment

The Norwegian company SoftOx Solutions has patented this type of treatment, and they are the ones who will continue work on the treatment by testing it on humans. But it all began in Thomas Bjarnsholt’s laboratory.

Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt
Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt

’The idea for this kind of treatment comes from our previous research into the ability of acid solutions to fight infections in wounds. It is the same idea which has now been refined and converted into inhalation treatment for fighting infections in the airways’, he says.

After having completed the preliminary tests for treatment of wound infections, the laboratory entered into a collaboration with SoftOx Solutions which was able to provide a stable acid solution. The combination of Thomas Bjarnsholt and colleagues’ patents and SoftOx Solution’s patents has later been further developed as a potential treatment for wound infections. 

Clinical Trials in the Spring

When the corona pandemic struck last spring, Thomas Bjarnsholt realised that his old idea might be used to fight COVID-19. Therefore, his research group received funding for turning it into an inhalation type treatment. They were successful, and their research will now be further developed by SoftOx Solutions through clinical trials.

’We hope this safety test on pigs means that we will be able to begin testing it on humans in the spring. If everything goes as planned, we may begin phase 1 in March, which is where we prove that the treatment is safe to use on humans’, says Thomas Bjarnsholt.

Thomas Bjarnsholt is affiliated with SoftOx Solutions as scientific adviser, he has stock options in the company, and he sits on the advisory board.

Read more at SoftOx Solutions



Professor Thomas Bjarnsholt
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Communications Consultant Mathias Traczyk
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