Inhaled interferon beta therapy shows promise in COVID-19 trial

SNG001 diminished the risk of COVID-19 patients developing severe symptoms, reduced breathlessness and improved recovery rates.

Covid-19 viral particles infecting the lungs - inhaled therapies to cure

Synairgen, a company based in Southampton, UK, has announced positive results from a clinical trial of SNG001 in hospitalised COVID-19 patients. SNG001 is an inhaled formulation of interferon beta.

According to the study, the risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms that required ventilation or caused death during the treatment period of 16 days was reduced by 79 percent for patients receiving SNG001 compared to those who received placebo.

The company also reported that patients who received SNG001 were more than twice as likely to recover within the course of the treatment period compared to those receiving placebo. The measure of breathlessness was “markedly reduced” in those treated with the drug compared to those in the control arm.

It also highlighted that, in patients with more severe disease at time of admission, SNG001 treatment increased the likelihood of hospital discharge during the study. However, this was not statistically significant, at six days versus nine days for those receiving placebo.

The study reported that three patients within the control group died, but there were no deaths in the SNG001 arm.

“The results confirm our belief that interferon beta, a widely known drug that, by injection, has been approved for use in a number of other indications, has huge potential as an inhaled drug to be able to restore the lung’s immune response, enhancing protection, accelerating recovery and countering the impact of SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Professor Tom Wilkinson, Professor of Respiratory Medicine at the University of Southampton, UK, and trial chief investigator.

“Recognising that SARS-CoV-2 is known to have evolved to evade the initial antiviral response of the lung, our inhaled treatment of giving high local concentrations of interferon beta, a naturally occurring antiviral protein, restores the lung’s ability to neutralise the virus, or any mutation of the virus or co-infection with another respiratory virus such as influenza or RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus), as could be encountered in the winter if there is a resurgence of COVID-19,” added Professor Stephen Holgate CBE, Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the University of Southampton and Co-Founder of Synairgen.