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article imageNovel coronavirus treatment study begins in the UK

By Tim Sandle     Jan 14, 2021 in Science
A new treatment for the disease caused by the coronavirus, intended to prevent severe illness, has been launched in England. The novel method to address COVID-19 is based on a protein-based inhalation treatment. This could be administered by the patient.
The treatment uses interferon beta-1a. In the past, this form of medicine has been provided by injection for those diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The drug has been 'repurposed' for COVID-19. The intention is to stimulate the immune system to help the body to fight the virus.
Interferons are a group of signaling proteins made and released by host cells in response to the presence of several viruses. As a pharmaceutical, interferon is a type of immunotherapy drug called an immune system modulator.
The product has been named SNG001, and it comes from the pharmaceutical firm Synairgen. Studies have now advanced to a Phase III trial, under the U.K.'s Urgent Public Health provisions. This enables accelerated development work to take place.
Earlier trials produced promising results with just 13 percent of patients given it going on to need intensive care treatment compared to 22 percent who received a placebo. It is hoped that the new trial will deliver similar results.
Globally, a randomised placebo-controlled study is taking place using 610 coronavirus patients . These are people who are majorly at risk and who require supplemental oxygen. In terms of at risk groups some patients re considered to be more a risk than others.
From a medical perspective, coronavirus is affecting different groups of people in terms of specific vulnerabilities. For example, around 30 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred in people with diabetes. Even within the diabetic group, the risk stands at three times higher for people with type 1 compared to type 2.
In related news, authorisation has been given by Swissmedic, the regulator in Switzerland, for the Moderna vaccine. The initial phase of vaccines will be shipped in mid-January 2021. This follows the approval process given to the vaccine in U.S., Canada, Israel, and the UK.
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