• Australian researchers are looking into the possibility of a coronavirus treatment that relies on an enzyme from an unusual source — pineapples.
  • Researchers have repurposed an existing cancer drug with an enzyme from pineapples and turned it into a nasal spray to help people suffering from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • To date, the coronavirus has infected more than 22.5 million people around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Everyone has the same question on their lips right now regarding the coronavirus pandemic: When will a vaccine finally be ready? The importance of an effective vaccine in ending this terrible pandemic cannot be overstated, as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates tried to explain in an interview in recent days. Gates, whose foundation has poured millions of dollars into the fight against the coronavirus around the world, believes that even if only a minority of the US population gets a coronavirus vaccination once one is available — or anywhere from 30% to 60% of the population — that will be enough to end the pandemic in the US.

Speaking of the US, the news is at least starting to get a little better overall regarding the coronavirus. Over the past week, the number of new infections in the US fell by almost 8%, for example, which was the fourth consecutive week of nationwide improvement, per Axios. Outside of the US, meanwhile, there’s more good news — in this case, relative to a possible coronavirus treatment.

The treatment is courtesy of professor and cancer specialist David Morris, from St. George Hospital in Sydney, who along with his team has reportedly repurposed a drug (called BromAc) that was already under development to treat cancer patients. The team believes this treatment might be able to stop the coronavirus from moving into the lungs of carriers — as well as spreading to infect additional people when someone has it.

This drug includes components that dissolve the spike that COVID-19 uses to infect other cells in humans. A trial with participating patients could start in a Melbourne hospital as soon as next month.

Here’s the fascinating thing about this drug: One of its core agents, Australian media has noted, is a pineapple stem enzyme. It’s called Bromelain and is already valued for medicinal purposes that include treating burn victims.

Australia’s Herald Sun has reported that BromAc has been trialed in 36 cancer patients, where positive benefits were observed. It’s been prepared in the form of a nasal spray that researchers want to use to stop the virus from spreading to the patient’s throat and lungs. What Morris and his team are especially hoping is that this drug could be taken at the first sign of the coronavirus in order to stop it cold.

“We’ve taken a drug in development for more than a decade and asked whether it can be adapted for treating people infected with COVID-19,” Morris said in a statement earlier this week.

“Our lab results show the new drug renders the COVID-19 spike ineffective, stopping it from infecting other cells. We hope the results will show the treatment can confine COVID to the nose and throat and prevent lung infection, and stop infected patients from passing on the live virus.”

Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.