Peter Mac’s C-SMART trial continues to investigate whether daily use of a medicated nasal spray could be protect cancer patients from viral respiratory infections, including COVID-19.

Melbourne’s C-SMART trial is relaunching the next phase of an important study looking at whether a nasal spray could prove effective in our fight against COVID-19 and other viruses.

Led by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and the National Centre for Infections in Cancer (NCIC), the trial is studying whether a low dose of the drug Interferon-alpha (delivered as a daily nasal spray) could help protect those with compromised immune systems from COVID-19.

Interferon is a licensed drug that has been used for decades to treat both viruses and diseases, including cancer, by disrupting a virus’ ability to replicate.

Professor Monica Slavin, Director of Infectious Diseases at Peter Mac and at the NCIC, believes interferon could protect against COVID-19 along with a range of other respiratory viruses.

“The C-SMART study is also looking at how effective the spray might be against influenza, the common cold, and other viruses that can cause serious infections in people with cancer,” said Professor Slavin.

While many clinical trials have excluded the cancer population, the C-SMART study is designed specifically for people with a cancer diagnosis for whom viruses such as COVID-19 pose greater risk of severe illness.

With feedback from first phase participants overwhelmingly positive, the trial is now expanding its eligibility criteria to include anybody with a current or past cancer diagnosis.

“I was more than happy to participate for the greater good. Throughout the process and my treatment, Peter Mac were a 110% and this was my way of saying thank you by contributing to clinical research. Cracker effort!” said one participant.

While many people with cancer have now been vaccinated against COVID-19, the trial will still provide critical insights for people whose immune systems are weakened who do not have a strong response to vaccines. For those who do have a response to vaccination, contracting COVID-19 is still possible – for this cohort, the nasal spray may provide an added layer of protection. In addition to prevention of infection, the study is assessing novel treatment approaches for cancer patients who test positive for COVID-19.

“With the highly transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19 still out there, we need to better understand how to protect our most vulnerable for whom the nasal spray may add another layer of protection on top of vaccination,” said Professor Slavin. 

Who can take part?

The trial is now open to anybody over the age of 18 who has had cancer. It is also open to people currently receiving treatment for cancer at Peter Mac, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, St Vincent’s Hospital, Austin Health / Olivia Newton John Cancer Wellness and Research Centre, and Sydney’s Westmead Hospital.

How does the trial work?

The study runs for four months from the date of the first dose of the nasal spray. Participants will be randomised to receive either the medicated spray or a placebo, and are encouraged to get their COVID-19 vaccination if they haven’t already.


For more information or to register your interest in the C-SMART trial, go online to

You can contact the Peter Mac Communications team on 0417 123 048