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Starpharma's SPL7013 Antiviral Takes On COVID-19

Keith Williams profile picture
Keith Williams


  • SPL7013 is the active ingredient of antiviral VivaGel products which are registered and sold in Australia, UK, Europe, Canada, Japan and SE Asia.
  • In lab tests SPL7013 performed (better?) than Gilead’s remdesivir in preventing SARS-CoV-2 viral infection.
  • Starpharma’s SPL7013 might have an important role in preventing and treating early stage COVID-19.
  • SPL7013 for COVID treatment isn’t the main game for those contemplating investment in Starpharma, but there is a possible significant role in addressing the pandemic and this has to have upside.


Starpharma VivaGel antiviral condom launched in Japan under Okamoto 003 brand

Last month I wrote an article suggesting that Starpharma’s (OTCQX:OTCQX:SPHRY) share price has been savaged by COVID-19 for no good reason. Now Starpharma is showing signs of fighting back against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19. Here I summarise my thoughts about the prospects for Starpharma’s SPL7013 antiviral having a role in the COVID-19 story. The possible COVID-19 treatment adds some sizzle to an already interesting opportunity.

It is tough for a non-technical investor to make sense of prospective treatments and vaccines for COVID-19. The New York Times has recently published a major article addressing how long it will take before a vaccine and/or treatment becomes available. The New York Times article provides a link to a BioWorld tabulation of 254 therapeutics and 95 vaccines under development. Making sense of what is “wish-and-a-prayer” and what is real, is time consuming and complicated. Most of the list is definitely in the category of highly speculative. To show just how tough it is for a non-technical investor to make sense of this, Starpharma’s therapeutic SPL7013 is in the Table, but it is cited as a vaccine rather than a therapeutic….so perhaps it isn’t surprising that it has been overlooked, notwithstanding the fact that it is one of a select group of antivirals which already has been approved for human use.

Remember that a vaccine is a way of getting people ready to fight off the disease before they have even been exposed. So the vaccine is about being able to stop the disease ahead of time. A therapeutic is about treating infection once you have it. SPL7013 is clearly a therapeutic, but curiously it also has some of the preventative features of a vaccine.

SPL7013 and SARS-CoV-2

SPL7013 is the active

This article was written by

Keith Williams profile picture
Keith began his career as a research scientist (developmental biology, biochemistry, molecular biology) at the Australian National University, University of Oxford (UK), the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry (Munich, Germany) and finally Macquarie University (Sydney) where he held a Chair in Biology and established the Centre for Analytical Biotechnology. Pioneering the area of proteomics (with Marc Wilkins in his group coining the term), Keith established the world’s first government-funded Major National Proteomics Facility (Australian Proteome Analysis Facility) which was involved with industrialising protein science. Keith left academe with his team to found Proteome Systems Ltd in 1999 to commercialise proteomics. The company had a strong focus on intellectual property, engineering/technology and bioinformatics. As CEO he led the company to ASX listing in 2004. Since 2005 Keith has been involved in new business development in biotech, e-health and other emerging technologies. Keith sees climate change and sustainable development as a major issue for humankind and also a major business disruptor/risk and opportunity. Keith holds a Bachelor Agr Science from the University of Melbourne and a PhD from the Australian National University. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering and received an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for services to the Biotechnology Industry. He has received various industry awards including an Innovation Hero Medal from the Warren Centre for Advanced Engineering. With 300 scientific papers and many patents written, Keith has a clear view of innovation in the Biotechnology and Climate/Renewable Energy space. He is not a financial advisor but his perspective adds relevance to decision-making concerning feasibility and investment in technology innovation.

Analyst’s Disclosure: I am/we are long SPHRY. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Seeking Alpha's Disclosure: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. Any views or opinions expressed above may not reflect those of Seeking Alpha as a whole. Seeking Alpha is not a licensed securities dealer, broker or US investment adviser or investment bank. Our analysts are third party authors that include both professional investors and individual investors who may not be licensed or certified by any institute or regulatory body.

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