Israeli pharma pioneer introduces TaffiX antiviral nose-powder

Megiddo, an established innovator in the field of orphan drugs and life-sciences, intends to offer greater protection from all viruses while humanity works on a COVID-19 vaccination

Taffix is a powder-based nasal medical treatment meant to kill most viruses (photo credit: NASUS PHARMA/PR)
Taffix is a powder-based nasal medical treatment meant to kill most viruses
(photo credit: NASUS PHARMA/PR)
When Nasus Pharma CEO Dr. Dalia Megiddo discussed COVID-19 with fellow workers, she joked that it would have been fantastic if one could simply burn the virus as it enters the nose in the breathing process. The joke quickly became a reality when she realized such a thing could, in theory, be done.
The body usually attempts to capture viruses and hostile bacteria using rhinorrhea (a runny nose), but its pH level is 6.8 – not enough to destroy viruses. Also, since it is a liquid, people usually swallow it or blow their noses dry, so it does not stay in the body long.
TaffiX is a powder-based medical device that coats the nasal passages with a clear hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC) jelly with a 3.5 pH level, Megiddo told The Jerusalem Post. It works for up to five hours in test animals, she said. Humans do not feel its acidity because the gel is formed on the naturally produced coating of the nasal passages.
Although TaffiX is sold in Israel, the Health Ministry has not yet approved the claim that it can prevent COVID-19. In the EU, however, the product is sold with that claim, as well as that it can prevent almost all other viruses (99%) from entering the body via the nose.
“The coronavirus has a series of proteins around it which it uses as ‘keys’ to open various ‘locks’ in the cells it wishes to enter and take over,” Megiddo said. “Many of these ‘locks’ are located in the human nose.”
Nasus Pharma Chief Executive Officer Doctor Dalia Megiddo (Courtesy)Nasus Pharma Chief Executive Officer Doctor Dalia Megiddo (Courtesy)
Megiddo, who has a rich history working on harder-to-market orphan drugs to cure rare diseases, said the speed at which humanity is racing to find a vaccination for COVID-19 concerns her.
“We know more about the virus and how it operates, but not what its weak points are,” she said. “Such research takes, in normal conditions, years upon years. If they will be able to reach a vaccination within a year, only God knows what will be the long-term effects of such a thing.”
Megiddo agreed that “the need is real,” but she cited some issues that even an effective, fairly safe vaccine may not be able to answer.
For example, if the vaccination will need to be transported in a cold container, the costs of shipping and handling will skyrocket.
MEGIDDO USED to treat patients as a medical doctor before she decided in the 1980s to transition into business.
“I had seen many cases of rare genetic diseases that most companies don’t even try to create a cure for, and these children sadly died,” she said.
In addition to that emotional motivation, there is also a practical one in that the FDA requires less testing before approving orphan drugs, “but not lesser-quality tests,” she added.
Israel, being the home of the Jewish people, which as an ethnic group tends to marry within itself, is also a fertile ground for such research. In the US, one would need to reach out to 10 centers to test 50 patients, but studies can be done in Israel much easier.
Megiddo invested in Chiasma, a company that developed a way to treat acromegaly and obtained FDA approval this summer. Megiddo has also been involved with Alcobra (now Arcturus Therapeutics) and BioBlast Pharma. Both companies have had their ups and down.
“We are in an industry with a one-to-10,000 success rate between scientists finding something in a lab and it eventually becoming a product,” Megiddo said.
“At the end of the day, biology isn’t math, and you can fail even if you did everything perfectly well,” she said. “It’s not a shame to fail because biology surprised you. It’s a shame to fail due to bad management of a company.”