(BBC.com) A British laboratory on Monday released the preliminary results of a promising study, carried out on a small sample of patients, in the treatment of coronavirus. Using a drug, SNG001, could reduce the risk of developing a severe form of the disease by 79%.
The preliminary results of a clinical trial suggest the new treatment for Covid-19 reduces the number of patients needing intensive care, according to the Southampton-based biotech Synairgen that developed it.
It uses a protein called interferon beta which the body produces when it gets a viral infection. The protein is inhaled directly into the lungs of patients with coronavirus, using a nebulizer, in the hope that it will stimulate an immune response.
The initial findings suggest the treatment cut the odds of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – such as requiring ventilation – by 79%.
Patients were two to three times more likely to recover to the point where everyday activities were not compromised by their illness, Synairgen claims.
It said the trial also indicated “very significant” reductions in breathlessness among patients who received the treatment.
In addition, the average time patients spent in hospital is said to have been reduced by a third, for those receiving the new drug – down from an average of nine days to six days.
The study was carried out on a relatively small sample of patients and has not been evaluated by a reading committee, but it could revolutionize the way the coronavirus is treated.
Synairgen chief executive Richard Marsden said it could be a “major step forward”. “The results confirm our belief that interferon beta (…) has enormous potential as an inhalation treatment to restore the immune response of the lungs, improving protection, accelerating recovery and countering the impact of the SARS virus. -CoV-2,” said Tom Wilkinson, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton, who led the trial, in a statement.
The double-blind trial involved 101 volunteers who had been admitted for treatment at nine UK hospitals for Covid-19 infections.
Half of the participants were given the drug, the other half got what is known as a placebo – an inactive substance.
Synairgen said that no deaths were reported in patients treated with SNG001, while three people died after being randomized to placebo.
The measure of breathlessness was also markedly reduced in patients who received the drug, Synairgen added.
Interferon beta is a naturally occurring protein, which regulates the body’s antiviral responses.