KITCHENER -- A research team at Wilfrid Laurier University is reporting some promising initial results from laboratory testing of an antiviral drug.

According to a news release, the team has been testing the drug which could be used to prevent respiratory virus infection.

The team's initial results show that a single dose of the drug, codenamed AntiV, can prevent two different strains of human coronaviruses from replicating in the lungs for up to seven days after infection.

"Honestly, the results are even better than we thought," said primary investigator Stephanie DeWitte-Orr, an associate professor in Laurier’s Departments of Health Sciences and Biology, in a news release.

"We are still in the preclinical phase, but thus far it has provided complete protection in human lung cells. We found no detectable virus a week after exposure."

She is working with a lab in Winnipeg to trial the drug with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Dewitte-Orr has been studying the drug for years and had previously discovered it was effective against infectious viruses like influenza and Ebola.

She said the drug could fill a need for preventative treatments until a vaccine is developed, approved and distributed.

Her team is looking for an industrial investment as they prepare for the next phases of their research, which includes testing on three-dimensional lung cell cultures. Those, Dewitte-Orr said, are "as close as you can get to a lung without a human lung."

She said it could be three to five years before AntiV is ready to market. While the first COVID-19 vaccines could roll out as early as this year, the antiviral drug would prepare the world in the event of another virus in the future.

"An off-the-shelf, inhalable antiviral drug would be a valuable tool globally to prevent the spread of future respiratory outbreaks," she said in the release.