Coronavirus drug hailed as game-changer after trial finds it cuts chances of severe illness
Treatment from biotech firm Synairgen uses interferon beta protein, which body produces when it gets a viral infection
A "game-changing" treatment for coronavirus could cut the chance of serious illness by 80 per cent, research suggests.
Trials using an inhaled protein, commonly used to treat multiple sclerosis, found patients who were given it were more than twice as likely to recover during the treatment period than those given a placebo.
Stays in hospital were cut by one third, according to the study of Southampton hospital patients.
The treatment, from biotech firm Synairgen, uses a protein called interferon beta, which the body produces when it gets a viral infection. The drug, known as SNG001, is inhaled using a nebuliser in order to stimulate an immune response.
Richard Marsden, the chief executive of the company, said: "We couldn't have expected much better results than these."
The trial found that hospital patients who took the drug had 79 percent lower odds of developing severe disease requiring ventilation, or death, during the treatment period of up to 16 days than patients who received the placebo.
Average time spent in hospital was reduced from an average of nine days to six.
Overall, those on the drug were two to three times more likely than those given a placebo to recover to the point at which they could continue daily activities during the trial.
Three people (six per cent) died after being randomly assigned the placebo, while there were no deaths among those who received the drug, Synairgen said.
Tom Wilkinson, professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Southampton and the trial chief investigator, said the findings showed the drug had "huge potential" in restoring the lung's immune response and speeding recovery from Covid-19.
Researchers said the treatment could not only help the lungs' ability to neutralise the virus but also tackle a mutated version or co-infection with other viruses, such as flu, which may emerge this winter.
However, the data, which came from the study of 101 patients, has yet to be published in a journal or peer-reviewed.
Researchers struggled to recruit as many patients as they had wanted to take part in the trial as coronavirus infection levels across the UK slowed.
Naveed Sattar, professor of metabolic medicine at the University of Glasgow, said: "The results seem very impressive, and although accepted that the trial is small, with just over 100 participants, a 79 per cent reduction in disease severity could be a game-changer.
"It would be good to see the full results once presented and peer-reviewed to make sure they are robust and the trial conduct was rigorous.
"Also, with small numbers comes less certainty on the true level of benefit, or whether benefits vary between people with differing risk characteristics. Such work would require a larger trial but, even so, these results are very exciting."https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/20...irgen-hailed-game-changer-trial-results/