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UK testing experimental treatment for use in COVID-19 patients

Published on 04/05/20 at 11:06am
Photo by Governor Tom Wolf

British scientists are testing an experimental drug to help some of society’s most vulnerable fight off the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The new treatment is known as SNG-001 and is developed by the bio-tech company Synairgen.  The drug is a special formulation of interferon beta that is delivered directly to the airways when the virus is present. Interferon beta is part of the first line of defense against viruses, and the researchers hope that a direct dose of the protein will help a patient’s body trigger a stronger anti-viral response, even if their immune systems are weak.

Professor Tom Wilkinson, who is working as head of the trial from the University of Southampton, said: “In an ideal world we would see a significant improvement in the health of the patients receiving the drug, a reduction in those requiring intensive care and ventilation. But it is early days to understand that and we will know more when we have the results.”

Currently, the trial has 75 patients across hospitals in the UK. Half will get the drug and half will receive a placebo, with initial results being expected at the end of June.

Interferon-beta 1a is traditionally used to treat multiple sclerosis. It is also being promoted by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a treatment to study as a coronavirus treatment.

Conor Kavanagh

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