Calabasas biotech Turn Therapeutics on Thursday announced it received authorization to start its first human safety and efficacy trial for a COVID-19 therapy.

The private company will test its flagship product Hexagen, an FDA-approved ointment used to treat open wounds and control infection, as a nasal treatment for COVID patients with mild to moderate symptoms.


Ninety-five percent petrolatum, Hexagen has a Vaseline-like consistency. 

Participants will receive a five-day, three-times-per-day nasal ointment to reduce viral load and symptom progression, Turn said in a statement. Data from the trial will be available as early as February.


Approximately 100 COVID patients in Panama, along with 50 health care workers, are participating across four hospitals. The Gorgas Memorial Institute of Health Studies in Panama City will serve as the central laboratory for sample analysis.


“Independent literature has confirmed that SARS-CoV-2 targets the nose, and that the nose is the highest source of viral shedding,” Dr. Julio Sandoval, lead investigator in the trial, said in a statement. “Reducing viral load will not only decrease the likelihood of severe illness in the carrier, but may lessen environmental spread via reduced shedding. We must remember that vaccines have not been confirmed to prevent spread. People may still be a carrier and spreader even if vaccinated.”


“There is so much of the world that will wait for years to be vaccinated; some may never even have the chance,” added Bradley Burnam, chief executive of Turn Therapeutics. “We are grateful to Dr. Sandoval and the entire research team for recognizing the importance of identifying and researching affordable, readily available therapeutics that may add to the clinical toolbox for those on the front lines.”