The inhaled form of interferon beta reportedly helps hospitalized COVID-19 patients recover from the disease. On Monday, British drug company Synairgen also said the commonly available drug could reduce the odds of patients becoming severely ill.

In recent weeks, Britain, China, and the United States have been intensifying efforts to find a potential treatment for COVID-19. This week, scientists have found that a drug based on interferon beta, a protein naturally produced by the human body to respond to viruses, helps significantly reduce severe coronavirus symptoms among COVID-19 patients.

The company conducted a small, double-blind trial involving 101 patients, some of which received inhalable interferon-beta while some received placebo for treatment. Researchers found that patients who received interferon-beta saw their risk of requiring ventilation or dying reduced by 79%. They were also more than twice as likely to recover than those who were treated with placebo.

The researchers explained that the coronavirus attacks the body by blocking its natural interferon response, disarming cells that are necessary to alert neighboring cells to activate their own genes to thwart the invasion of the virus. By administering interferon to COVID-19 patients, the body’s defenses are invigorated in the early stages of the disease.

In the study, the inhaled form of interferon was able to directly target cells in the lungs of the patients. The approach was found to be better than using an injection, which is more likely to produce intense side effects.

“It’s very exciting,” said Stuart Neil, a professor of virology at King’s College London. “By basically inhaling the interferon into the site of infection, it looks like you’re taking the edge off the virus,” he added.

Meanwhile, researchers said the significance of the findings was seriously limited due to the small size of the trial. According to Synairgen, the limited nature of the trial makes it difficult to ascertain how beneficial the drug is or how it affects patients differently. They said a much larger randomized trial should be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the drug.

Researchers also noted that while the injectable interferon has been used for many years to treat hepatitis infections, its inhaled form is not yet licensed and widely available.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Drug - Remdesivir
One vial of the drug Remdesivir lies during a press conference about the start of a study with the Ebola drug Remdesivir in particularly severely ill patients at the University Hospital Eppendorf (UKE) in Hamburg, northern Germany on April 8, 2020, amidst the new coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

© 2024 Latin Times. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.