Botanix Pharmaceuticals (ASX:BOT) shares have soared after a small clinical trial backed the feasibility of putting synthetic cannabis up the nose of surgical patients to prevent infections.

While cannabis is of course mostly known for its psychoactive properties, a number of companies trying to unlock its therapeutic benefit and Botanix’s research has shown that cannabidiol (CBD) is a potent an


The phase 2a study involving 66 participants showed Botanix’s BTX1801 gel and ointment formulas effectively eradicated staph bacteria from the nasal cavity of participants known to be carriers, the company said.

“We’ve shown that it works in humans, and that’s always the biggest jump, from animals and Petri dishes,” Botanix executive director Matt Callahan told Stockhead.

“We’re very happy with the data.”

The study involved 66 participants who had BTX1801 ointment, gel or placebo rubbed up their nose twice daily for five days in a row.

Two days after treatment, the bacteria were successfully eradicated in the noses of about three-quarters of the 22 participants treated with the ointment; two-thirds of those treated with the gel; and just one-quarter of those given a placebo.

Twenty-three days later, patients who received the BTX 1801 formulations still showed significantly lower rates of staph nasal colonialization than those who got the placebo.

Botanix is hoping to commercialise BTX 1801 to combat surgical site infections, which are responsible for thousands of deaths in the United States each year.

Over 80 per cent of post-surgical infections are caused by the patient infecting themselves from bacteria their own nose, so the World Health Organization has since 2016 recommended that surgical patients who are known staph carriers be treated with topical antibiotics in their nose.

But staph bacteria is becoming increasingly resistant to mupirocin, the standard antibiotic used for nasal decolonization, so governments are pouring funds into the development of new antibiotics, creating an opening for Botanix.

The company also sees opportunity in using BTX 1801 for nasal decolonisation in other clinical settings such as patients undergoing dialysis.

Callahan said it would take another two studies before US regulators would consider approving the drug candidate, but the company hoped to move quickly, with fast-track authorisation from the Food and Drug Administration in hand.

Botanix also plans to begin recruitment in the first half of this year for an eight-week clinical trial evaluating its BTX 1702 gel to treat rosacea, a chronic acne-like skin condition.

Just after noon Botanix shares were trading up 29.0 per cent to 19c, their highest level since October 2019.