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Destiny Pharma PLC (LON:DEST) announced a collaboration agreement with UK biotech SporeGen to co-develop SporeGen’s SPOR-COV product as a novel, preventive treatment for COVID-19.

The pair received an £800,000 grant from Innovate UK to fund the majority of the £1mln preclinical programme.

Under the agreement, the parties will share any costs and commercial returns from SPOR-COV and plan to complete a pre-clinical programme with the aim of being ready to enter the first human clinical trials within 18 months.

Destiny Pharma will contribute with its expertise in pre-clinical and clinical drug development.

The SPOR‑COV product, already shown to provide complete protection in preclinical models of influenza virus, consists of a proprietary formulation of Bacillus bacteria that will be administered nasally as a spray.

The formulation is different to vaccines in that it utilises the innate immune system with the aim of developing COVID-19 protection a few days after dosing.

As an “easy to use” first line of defence, it has the potential to reduce infection rates and transmission significantly, the AIM-listed company said.

Analysts at finnCap noted it has the potential to be used in other respiratory viral infections although it is now focusing on COVID-19.

Shares in Destiny added 12% to 55p on Monday before close.