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Trial of potential new COVID-19 treatment begins in UK

Published on 13/01/21 at 10:09am

A large-scale trial of a new COVID-19 treatment to prevent severe illness in coronavirus patients has begun in the UK.

The treatment involves inhaling a protein called interferon beta-1a, which is traditionally given as an injection to decrease inflammation and prevent nerve damage in people with multiple sclerosis. Researchers hope the experimental treatment will stimulate the immune system to fight off the virus.

The inhaled formulation of interferon beta-1a, also called SNG001, was developed by respiratory drug discovery company Synairgen. Hospitalised COVID-19 patients in the UK are being administered the protein as part of the UK-based company’s global Phase III trial of the potential coronavirus treatment, and sites in the US and EU are expected to follow.

The trial is deemed an Urgent Public Health study by the UK’s National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). In the US, SNG001 has been granted Fast Track status from the FDA, and Synairgen is seeking further equivalent prioritisations and support from governments in participating countries.

The company’s trial is a randomised placebo-controlled study being conducted in approximately 20 countries, enrolling a total of 610 coronavirus patients who require supplemental oxygen. After reporting the results for the primary and key secondary endpoints of the study, enrolled patients will continue to be assessed for long-COVID-19 symptoms.

Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen, said: “We need treatments as well as vaccines to fight highly pathogenic viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. Development of treatments like ours will remain necessary in cases where vaccines are not effective, for those who do not get vaccinated, and in case the virus mutates to the point where vaccines become less effective.

“We believe this trial presents an opportunity for a significant UK scientific breakthrough and, if given the right support, our drug could rapidly assist with the global crisis.”

Darcy Jimenez

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