Large Scale Clinical Trials to Test Interferon Beta Inhalers for COVID-19 Begin

As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses, there is an urgent need of discovering and developing a decent drug for the cure of the patients. The new treatment using inhaled interferon beta is in the third phase of its clinical trials under the company Synairgen.

Trials have begun on a large scale now to evaluate the efficacy of the redesigned drug and to fix any setbacks the drug might have before sending it for approval.

Many researches have been conducted to analyze how the inhaled interferon beta would work in a Covid-19 patient’s body. It is important to have a prior knowledge on the safety and efficacy of the drug when it would be administered in the form of inhalation. Patients who have been admitted to the hospitals because of Covid-19 are only being treated with a few antivirals only, along with some drugs that help manage the other symptoms presented by the patients.

The drug prepared by Synairgen which is an inhaled nebulized interferon beta-1a (SNG001) is a hope for the people who are under clinical supervision. As the development of vaccines would help immunize the people, the drug would help cure those who are already infected and need proper treatment.

The drug contains the same protein which is produced in the body when it is infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other viral infections. It is a part of the body’s line of defense along with other immune cells. The drug formulation is altered in such a way that it nebulizes the air passageway directly targeting the required area triggering a strong antiviral response.

The drug will prepare the body for the viral – immune cells conflict and boost the production of beta interferon thus aiding the body to recover earlier with improved immunity. The good news about this treatment is that people who have asthma or suffer from respiratory diseases would be able to tolerate this treatment and would be comfortable with it.

The medication is being developed by a biotech based company under the Southampton University Hospital, Synairgen. Previously conducted trials were only done on a small number of people so the company needed to initiate a large scale trial to reaffirm their claim for the designed drug. The trial is now being conducted by administering interferon beta inhalation to one group and giving placebo to another for comparison. The final results are expected to be out in early summer.

The first patient who has been administered with the inhaled interferon beta this Tuesday for the large scale clinical trial is from Hull Royal Infirmary. The lady named Alexandra Constantin who is 34 years old, was the first person to receive this treatment as part of this new trial on Monday as she was admitted to the hospital. A nebulizer was handed over to her, which she had to inhale using the right technique as part of the clinical trial.

The results released five months ago based on the previous phases of clinical trials showed very promising outcomes. The chief of Synairgen shows confidence in the treatment as it will help reduce the patients on ventilation due to Covid-19 by 80%. The patients would be able to recover from illness speedily and the daily activities would not be compromised.

The patients who had received the drug had very few complaints of breathlessness. The average time a patient would be admitted to the hospital would be reduced from nine to six days making it an effective part of treatment strategies for both the patient and the hospital.

“If we had a positive study, we would hope to move rapidly into scaled manufacture and delivery of the drug in clinical practice,” said Prof Tom Wilkinson, of the University of Southampton, who is overseeing the trial.

It would be a huge aid to the vaccines which are being rolled out simultaneously. Those people who might choose to not get the vaccination or just miss their dose can rely on this treatment if they contract the virus. People who suffer from respiratory diseases and asthma usually have less interferon produced in their bodies, so using this inhaler would be a big support for them to survive the virus.

Also, as the virus strains are becoming mutant side by side, this treatment would remain a consistent option and a ray of hope during the gloomy days of this pandemic era.

“This is exciting, but we have to see what the phase three results show,” says Dr Lamis Latif, a south London GP who has been working in emergency care with Covid-19 patients. “We’ve had other drugs in similar circumstances, we’ve had hydroxychloroquine, for example, but again, when that reached further trials, it wasn’t as promising as it initially made up to be. So that’s something to really take note of for this current drug.”

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