Corona patients who used the drug were 79% less likely to become seriously ill, claims British company Synairgen.

The company – founded by professors from the University of Southampton – relies on a clinical study involving 101 corona patients. About half were given the drug – called SNG001 – and seemed to benefit tremendously.

Interferon-β
SNG001 contains the protein Interferon-β. This protein occurs naturally in our body. The protein plays an important role in our immune system and as such can also compete with, for example, SARS-CoV-2. However, research indicates that coronaviruses such as SARS-CoV-2 have mechanisms that suppress the production of these proteins. In addition, there is evidence that people who produce less of these proteins in their lungs are more prone to serious lung problems when they contract a respiratory infection.

It gave researchers an interesting idea. What if we give people some extra of these proteins? The result is SNG001: a drug that houses Interferon-β and is administered through an inhaler, so the proteins are delivered directly into the lungs.

Promising
The drug has been tested in a small group of test subjects in recent months. And the results are therefore very promising. Richard Marsden, CEO of Synairgen even cautiously speaks of ‘a big breakthrough’. “Our efforts are now focused on working with regulators and other key groups to ensure that this potential treatment is further developed as soon as possible.”

The research
The optimism is based on a study involving 101 corona patients. The subjects were nursed in 9 different British hospitals between March 30 and May 27. Half of the subjects were treated with SNG001. The other half received a placebo. And SNG001 seems to leave a significant mark on the course of the disease. For example, the chances of corona patients becoming seriously ill – that is, that they had to die or even died on the ventilator – were as much as 79% smaller in the group treated with SNG001. “It has also been shown that patients who received SNG001 were twice as likely to recover in such a way that their everyday activities were not hindered by being infected by SARS-CoV-2,” said Marsden.

“The results confirm our belief that Interferon-β – a well-known drug that has been approved for many other purposes in the form of injections – has tremendous potential by restoring the immune response of the lungs as an inhaled drug to provide greater protection against SARS -CoV-2, promotes recovery and limits the impact of SARS-CoV-2, ”concludes Professor Tom Wilkinson, University of Southampton.

Shorter treatment
The study further finds, according to Synairgen, that patients who were hospitalized at the time and started their treatment with SNG001 were already quite ill (and needed extra oxygen, for example) who were able to leave the hospital a little faster than people who received a placebo. . The clinical study also suggests that the positive effects of SNG001 are in no way related to the duration of the symptoms. In other words, the treatment is not only paying off in people who start it soon after the first symptoms, but it can also make a difference for people who start treatment a little later. ”Our inhaled treatment where locally high concentrations of Interferon -β, a naturally occurring antiviral protein, administered allows the lungs to regain this virus – or a mutated version, or a co-infection with another respiratory virus, such as the flu or the RS virus, as we may encounter it in winter as COVID-19 re-emerges – to neutralize, ”concludes Stephen Holgate, of the University of Southampton and co-founder of Synairgen. The investigation into SNG001 will continue in the coming weeks. Studies among larger groups of people will then have to show whether the drug can really make such a big difference as this small-scale study suggests. affiliated with the University of Southampton and co-founder of Synairgen. The investigation into SNG001 will continue in the coming weeks. Studies among larger groups of people will then have to show whether the drug can really make such a big difference as this small-scale study suggests. affiliated with the University of Southampton and co-founder of Synairgen. The investigation into SNG001 will continue in the coming weeks. Studies among larger groups of people will then have to show whether the drug can really make such a big difference as this small-scale study suggests.

Independent scientists call the preliminary results released today exciting but also have their caveats. This is mainly due to the fact that the results have only been released in a press release and press conference and have not been published in a scientific journal. This makes it very difficult to verify the results – but also the study design. They also point out that this is a small-scale study and that you should not draw too large conclusions based on this. “There are many more patients to be recruited and any adverse effects (from treatment, ed.) To be carefully evaluated,” emphasizes Professor Stephen Evans, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicineand not involved in the investigation. Professor Naveed Sattar of the University of Glasgow sees it the same way. “The results seem promising and although the research with a little more than 100 test subjects is small-scale (…) it can be a game changer . It would be good to see the full results – after undergoing peer review – to ensure that they are robust and that the study design is correct. Moreover, with smaller numbers (subjects, ed.) It is more difficult to be able to say with certainty about the benefits of the treatment and to find out whether the benefits of the treatment differ from person to person, depending on the risk profile. That requires a larger-scale study, but for now the results are exciting. ”

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