Haim Bio CEO Kim Hong-yeoul (R) poses with Massimo Zollo from the CEINGE Institute. The two cooperated with other scientists to find that inorganic polyphosphates can prevent COVID-19 infection. Photo courtesy of Haim Bio
SEOUL, July 9 (UPI) -- A team of scientists have discovered a substance that helps treat and prevent COVID-19 variants.
Their findings were featured Thursday on the front cover of Science Signaling, the family publication of the peer-reviewed journal Science.
The team, headed by South Korean biologics firm Haim Bio CEO Kim Hong-yeoul, discovered that inorganic polyphosphates inhibit infection and replication of COVID-19.
A total of 35 scientists took part in the research from Haim Bio, Yonsei University Medical School in Korea and the CEINGE institute in Italy.
"We experimentally proved that inorganic polyphosphates prevent the coronavirus from recognizing human cells and exert an antiviral action against the virus," Kim said in a statement.
"The findings were so groundbreaking that we repeated the experiments for almost a year together with Massimo Zollo from CEINGE to prove their [inorganic polyphosphates'] functions."
Zollo is among the scientists who joined the global joint research on inorganic polyphosphates and one of co-authors of the paper.
Kim said inorganic polyphosphates could kill most viruses in infected primary human epithelial cells when the substances were delivered via nasal spray.
Saying that inorganic polyphosphates were efficient to the Alpha variant of COVID-19 first identified in Britain, Kim expected that the substances would also work on the Delta variant, the dominant strain globally.
His rationale: Inorganic polyphosphates target a region of COVID-19 viruses where mutations producing the variants do not take place.
Further testing will take about five months, a representative of Haim Bio said, adding that the company hopes to come up with a product to deliver the substance via nasal spray by next February.