Coronavirus: Protein treatment trial ‘a breakthrough’

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The preliminary results of a clinical trial suggest a new treatment for Covid-19 dramatically reduces the number of patients needing intensive care, according to the UK company that developed it.

The treatment from Southampton-based biotech Synairgen 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, employing a nebuliser, within the hope that it’ll stimulate an immune reaction .

The initial findings suggest the treatment cut the chances of a Covid-19 patient in hospital developing severe disease – like requiring ventilation – by 79%.

Patients were two to 3 times more likely to recover to the purpose where everyday activities weren’t 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 typical time patients spent in hospital is claimed to possess been reduced by a 3rd , for those receiving the new drug – down from a mean of nine days to 6 days.

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 got the drug, the opposite half got what’s referred to as a placebo – an inactive substance.

Unconfirmed results
Stock market rules mean Synairgen is obliged to report the preliminary results of the trial.

The results haven’t been published during a peer-reviewed journal, nor has the complete data been made available; therefore the BBC cannot confirm the claims made for the treatment.

But if the results are because the company says, it’ll be a really important breakthrough within the treatment of coronavirus infections.

The scientist responsible of the trial, Tom Wilkinson, says if the results are confirmed in larger studies the new treatment are going to be “a game changer”.

The trial was relatively small but the signal that the treatment benefits patients was unusually strong, he says.

“We couldn’t have expected far better results than these,” Synairgen chief executive Richard Marsden told the BBC.

He described the results as “a major breakthrough within the treatment of hospitalised Covid-19 patients”.

What happens next?
Mr Marsden said the corporate are going to be presenting its findings to medical regulators round the world within the next few days to ascertain what further information they require so as to approve the treatment.

That process could take months, although British government, like many others, has said it’ll work as fast as possible to urge promising coronavirus treatments approved.

It is possible it might be given emergency approval, because the anti-viral drug remdesivir was in May.

Another possibility is that permission are going to be given for more patients to receive the treatment with the consequences being carefully monitored to verify it’s safe and effective.

If it does get approval, the drug and therefore the nebulisers wont to deliver it might then got to be manufactured in large quantities.

Mr Marsden says he instructed companies to start out producing supplies back in April to make sure they might be available should the results be positive.

He says he expects Synairgen to be ready to deliver “a few 100,000” doses a month by the winter.

How does the treatment work?
Interferon beta is a component of the body’s first line of defense against viruses, warning it to expect a viral attack.

The coronavirus seems to suppress its production as a part of its strategy to evade our immune systems.

The new drug may be a special formulation of interferon beta delivered on to the airways via a nebuliser which makes the protein into an aerosol.

The idea is that an immediate dose of the protein within the lungs will trigger a stronger anti-viral response, even in patients whose immune systems are already weak.

Interferon beta is usually utilized in the treatment of MS .

Previous clinical trials conducted by Synairgen have shown that it can stimulate an immune reaction which patients with asthma and other chronic lung conditions can comfortably tolerate the treatment.

How was the treatment tested?
No-one involved within the trial knew which patients are given which treatment until it had been over.

“If you recognize it is a drug, your mind may need a bias,” explained Sandy Aitken, one among the nurses who administered the new drug to patients at Southampton Hospital.

Synairgen’s drug trial was the template for the Accord programme, a fast-track clinical test scheme found out by the united kingdom government in April to accelerate the event of latest drugs for patients with Covid-19.

Source: bbc news

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